Ben Parzybok

will forget your name, and feel very badly about it


In November of 2000 I gleefully believed I’d coined the word ‘Automagically‘ to describe how I felt about the mechanism behind The Psychic Book Project (now a horribly un-updated project) which included some of my first experiences with web programming. From the Gumball Poetry log:

November, 2000: Gumball Poetry saw several exciting new unveilings this month. Number one, the mechanism that runs The Psychic Book Project was completely overhauled due to Madame Lola’s (our in-house psychic) departure for Antarctica. As such, book divinations are now done automagically by Madame Lola’s robotic dog, Pietro. You’ll just have to head on over there to get the full scoop.

I now see that Automagical  was used as early as 1987. The definition, via Wikipedia:

Automatic, but with an apparent element of stage magic. Commonly used in computer and other technology fields, referring to complex technical processes hidden from the view of users or operators. Includes a connotation of specialness and often implies pride on the part of the process creator (especially when the person using the word is the process creator). Sometimes, also used in sarcastic way, ironically implying an impossible process.

I love this word. It still very much describes how I feel about programming. It’s magical. You create a black box and inside of it roil and boil all these spells you’ve fashioned. Feed it some input and, voila! Your water is turned into wine, your toad into a prince.

I want my web apps to impart a sense of automagicality, and my writing to revive a sense of wonder and magic in the reader. But more than that, this is what I want life to feel like all the time, which, thankfully, it mostly does. Any time I get to feeling like it’s a pile of drudgery I have to remind myself  of pretty much any bit of nature – Elephant painting, elephant intelligence  – to realize how effking automagical it all is. Who needs religion when this much magic is here already?

This article: ET Likely Doesn’t Exist, Finds Math Model made me feel sad today. And lonely, I suppose. But it also reminds me how automagical it is that I even exist.


Author: Benjamin Parzybok

My name is Ben Parzybok and I'm a novelist and programmer living in Portland, OR. @sparkwatson


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