Suddenly, without warning, he left the intarwebs as completely as could be possible in such a short time. And so... gone is the most singular, most innovative and inspiring artist within the programming community, with not much more than a eulogy left.
My assumption is that he always had this in mind, that he knew he might need to pull the pin at some point, that he saw the _why persona as a temporary thing, that he was creating art in the moment, that he wasn't interested in fame or fortune, just communicating with people.
My guess is that he felt that he was getting less and less of a positive response from his work, that the Ruby community was no longer a happy playground for him, and that more and more people were trying to outdo his programs and obsolete his work. That people were doing little more than worshiping him as a hero, rather than joining with him in extending the possibilities of programming, educating children, and making their own art from code, from sketches, from music, from creating imaginary worlds.
<p>I think the recent crass attempts to out his identity may have been the final straw. Given that it’s well known that he tried to get his own Wikipedia entry removed (the editors wouldn’t do it, because his reputation was too great by that stage), it was not at at all surprising for me to hear that he had ripped down his online identity so abruptly. I was a little more surprised to hear that he had also removed his code on Github, but I don’t buy into the whole “He’s an asshole, people are relying on that code” argument. People should have more respect for art, individual expression and content that is given away for free online. In this context, code is content. The owner of the content can do what they like with it, and in this case, I think _why did what he needed to do. It is a reminder to all of us that behind such a god-like online persona is still a real person and like all of us, he has real emotions and a real desire for privacy. This should be respected, not derided.</p>
People can whine or gripe about it, but good on him for being only himself, and not being dragged downstream by the groupthink of the software community. We will never forget _why, and the inspiration he was to us. The way he showed us that art matters in programming, and the way he turned documentation and explanation of advanced programming concepts into a game that we could all participate in.