Alan Kay (and Habr collective intelligence): which books form the thinking of a labor engineer

Original author: Alan Kay
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As in science, medicine, counseling and in many other areas, I think that in this case there are problems of temperament, as well as knowledge - there is a kind of “vocation” here. And, I think, a kind of "attitude."

A key part of engineering is the love of doing things, especially of doing them right away and doing them well. Most of the engineering came from “tinkering” (aka “hacking”), adding to this the desire for “fundamental design and creation”, “integrity”, etc. All the great engineers that I personally know have deep moral convictions about what they do and why it "should be done as best as possible." Part of the imposition of temperament on science is a kind of "laboratory rat", which is most happy when she is in the know about an experiment or creating a new experimental apparatus.


Henry Petrosky is an engineer who has written a number of very good books on engineering and should be re-read in order to gain basic knowledge and understand engineering in general.


Another great engineer who writes well is Sam Florman .


There are several excellent speeches and an essay by Richard Hamming ... ( approx. Transl. We are actively translating them here on Habré)

If we make a Venn diagram on the historical progression of STEM, we get a partially duplicate TEMS: Tinkering (manual labor), Mechanical Engineering, Mathematics, and Science. Most modern practitioners get good results in all of these areas, and most of the best things are at the intersection of them all. Great “do it” teams are made up of people who do a bit of everything, but are very good specialists in one or two areas. During my career, I have experienced the most fun working with great engineers, and I have engineering experience from high school, which helps a lot (although I am mistaken in science and mathematics).

As for the advice, it consists not only in messing around with things and doing them, and not only in fluent in all TEMS, but in finding internships and so on, where real things are created, especially hard things. You can learn a lot by observing how experts do their job and doing something with them.

A big revelation for me was the “attitude” to the ARPA community. The whole society is simply "used to trusting your imagination and doing everything that is necessary to make visions real." In such a culture, with such confidence and with such a track record, learning is much easier.


Recently, I flew to Chita to tell schoolchildren how it came to my mind to launch a crowdsourcing satellite and build a jetpack, and preparing for my presentation, I would distribute a list of literature, but it’s not quite school, but I’ll bring it here:

Andrey Artishchev (CEO at Livemap, CEO at Posture Master):

Evgeny Bushkov

  • Perelman "Entertaining tasks and experiences"
  • Nosov "Dunno on the moon"
  • Strugatsky "Country of crimson clouds"

Anton Rogachev , aerospace laboratory of Moscow State University

  • Pogorelov's geometry textbook
  • G.P. Schedrovitsky
  • Daniel Kahneman

Pavel Kulikov , teacher at GoTo Design School

  • Strugatsky, "Interns"
  • Feynman, “Of course you are joking, Mr. Feynman!”
  • Rand, Atlas Shrugged
  • London, Martin Eden

Fedor Falkovsky , GoTo Design School

  • M.A.Shtremel “Engineer in the laboratory”



It seems that they praised Avant, but he did not look:

Anatoly Shperkh , School of Engineering Thinking LNMO

  • J. Gordon "Designs, or why things don't break"

Anonymous from hakspeysa

  • Lectures by Professor Chaynikov
  • Encyclopedia of Professor Fortran

Ivan Moshkin , Director General, 3D Printing Laboratory

  • Samodelkin magazines

Ksenia Gnitko , information security specialist

  • ME AND. Perelman “Entertaining tasks and experiments” (7 years)
  • B. Green “The Elegant Universe” (14 years old)
  • Quantum magazine

Nikolay Abrosimov , Software Development Engineer at NWave

  • McConnell Perfect Code
  • K&R classic book

What would you advise? What influenced your engineering worldview?

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