The blog has been silent for two weeks plus and, dear reader—that is, if there are any of you still remaining—dear reader, the thought occurs to me that maybe I should keep my drafts in a Git repository with a remote on GitHub, not because I need the full power of version control (I do not), but because then I would be rewarded for writing with those contemptible green contribution squares.
It's an anthropomorphism to think that humans have goals, that we do things because we've computed that they'll increase expected beauty or rightness in the world. We do things for the immediate reinforcement. You eat the candy because it tastes good and you show up to work on time because if you didn't, then your colleagues would notice. Serious long-term risks of diabetes or unemployment are too distant and too abstract to enter in the equation; far more effective is something immediately noticeable, even something as trivial as an integer being incremented or a square turning a darker shade of green. I tell myself that I code because it's fun and useful and lucrative (though I'm never explicit about whether that's descending or ascending order of importance), but would I be quite so diligent without the implicit gamification of my virtue? Would it be enough to have done good work, without wasting a few minutes here and there to gaze admiringly at commit diffs and contribution squares which manifest my moral worth in red and green and green?
Dear reader, I want you to picture yourself reclining at the end of a long day near the end of long career filled with great or terrible deeds. A young minion at the start of their own career will look at you and ask in awe, "O Master, what motivated you, all that time? What drove you on in your hour of deepest exhaustion? Was the it money, the fame, the men or women? Was it your ideological fervor or spirit of generosity?"
"No," you'll reply. "I did it for the green squares. And given the same circumstanstances ... I'd do it all again."
"You mean, you made the right choices? You have no regrets?"
"No, you fool!" you'll shout. "Don't you understand? I said, I'd do it again."