Monday, April 21, 2008


Lately I've been thinking about the concept of "Play".

When I first learned the game of Go, I was just messing around and it was really fun. I was playing. Then I got a little bit better at it and started caring if I was winning. It stopped being quite so fun. It started being Serious.

Sometimes we can do the same thing at home as we do for our work and it's fun and playful. I think a lot of open source developers have that experience.

Play is when it's almost like the result doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if you win or lose or if your program gets used by a bunch of people, or if you sell the product.

Play is when it's almost like standards don't matter. You'll be as organized about things as you want to be. You'll use good coding conventions if you feel like it. You'll write detailed documentation if it doesn't take too much time. You'll play Go with someone who is not at your level just for kicks, even though it doesn't help you to get better.

Play is going for a walk in the woods not to get exercise or to get enlightenment, but just because you enjoy it.

In fact, despite what I said above, you can care about the end result if that's part of your joy, and you can care about the standards if that's part of your joy. When I was talking to my friend Dylan about this, he said that he races better when he's just playing. That's also why some people love their jobs.

You know you are Playing when you find Joy in the action itself and those other pieces are incidental. Go Play :)

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