The Computer Contradictionary - Stan Kelly-Bootle

I lent this to a friend... hmmm... years ago. It's finally been returned (cheers, Dan!), so I thought this was the perfect time to reread it. It may be a dictionary, but it's sarcastic and in places down-right unhelpful. Think of it as the bitter and angry lesser-known sibling of The New Hackers Dictionary (to which it occasionally makes fairly kind references). Whereas TNHD really is a dictionary, attempting to expose the hacker subculture, as was, this is a collection of one-liners and polemics on various topics, heavily flavoured by the author's world. Idiosyncratic is the word, here.

Indeed, the barrier to entry on this volume is pretty high. Well, it's not, but rather the bar before you're going to get most of the jokes is high. You'll need good classical knowledge, experience of the mainframe industry, discrete maths and a knowledge of the history of computing (including some particularly obscure Cambridge references) to get most of this. Oh, and a tolerance for some fairly poor jokes. :) I must admit, many an entry left me scratching my head.

So, it's certainly not TNHD, and I don't think it would claim to be. It is, however, a pretty good complement to it, and probably receive a bit less attention than it deserves.

Posted 2007-05-28.