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[Typist's note: Yeah, this may sound silly, but I do believe that at least big part of the following is actually true! Some stuff of the computer world cannot be easily explained otherwise... ]

Last week, when the moon was full and the clouds were thick, I typed gcc, and lo, it did compile. Prepare to enter the world of...




Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

- Arthur C. Clarke's Third Law


Technomancy is the magical art related to use and manipulation of technology. It is the "machine magic".

Contrary to popular belief, Technomancy is not limited to high-tech, it also worked (on my tests long time ago) on stone knives, medieval catapults and 19th century cannons.

There is an inherent magic in some objects. The strongest concentration of magic in computers is in Unix operating system and its derivatives. Anyone who has used Unix for more than six months knows this.

Some fundamental principles

Let us consider the fundamental principles. Technomancy is about modification of physics. The very essence of magic is that it makes the laws of physics work differently for limited time, thus making things interesting.

The prime concept is just that: glitches. To make catapult malfunction, you need to make its parts move in unexpected manner. To make a computer stop working, you need to turn a conductor (power cord, preferably) into nonconductor.

Technology College is related to the Movement College, Making and Breaking College (and for higher technology, Electricity College, which in turn is a part of the Air College).

Machine is something that does something. We define machine as something that stores and uses energy. As we deal with Movement, the simple tools that require machines or mundane things to use, are separate issue but we can deal with those as well.

With Movement College, we can make machines move differently. With Electricity College, we can make electric currents go the way we want. With Making and Breaking College, we know how and why the machine works, and what makes it not to work.

Some simple tools and machines have inherent magic. They simply work better than others, and no one knows why.

Example: Unix magic

Take Linux, for example. If you have an Intel-based system and you run Windows on it, you may think that the system is slow and unreliable.

However, when you boot Linux on the same machine, the system runs fast and reliably. If you have any magical aptitude, you can feel it - it is not just the program performance. It's not about the GNU tools - you can run GNU tools on Windows and they still run slower than in Linux. And yet, Linux kernel has fairly odd code, and it even contains goto statements. Why does it run fast? The reason is the Unix magic.

The essence of Unix magic is the seamless co-operation of the kernel and the machine. The Linux kernel can take full advantage of the machine, because it is small, modular and open.

The heart of the magic is the kernel. Invoking the words "This is a Unix kernel, and it follows the Path of BSD" will make the kernel run faster. (You can change "BSD" to "POSIX", but do not change it to "SysV"-that will make the machine go slower).

Unix works perfectly on network. The internet protocols were built into Unix kernels very early; This is why the Unix is still the best choice for network things. Also, Unix memory management is really good: the application can easily use a lot of memory if it needs to, without grinding the machine down. Unix power comes from The 32 Bits, Multitasking and Stability.

There are several ways to unleash the raw fury of Unix magic. The best way is to hack in C. The second best is to hack in Perl.

[Typist's note: When your fingers are typing Perl code, you can feel the surges of the Unix power. You're manipulating the very essence of the reality with your fingers. You have to see perl code to believe it - it is crufty and hard to read, but Perl is ultimately powerful language. *nod* *nod*]

The reason behind the Unix magic is hard to explain - but that tends to be the nature of magic anyway. (Hoki grins)

Assembly of the Technomancers

My notes about the general hierarchy of the Technomancers in modern society are somewhere. I just don't know where. Maybe I just GCd them. Or maybe I am simply too absent-minded.


The Tao of Programming, James Geoffrey, Infobooks, 1987, ISBN 0-931137-07-1
I believe this thing is in the Web too (blatatant violation of the copyright, of course, but hey, it's a good book).

Ending words

May the Source be with you, hackers!

[Rated with RSACi] [Made with Amaya]

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