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about wizard zines

wizard zines is a little different from other tech publications. Here’s my approach:

1. stick to fundamentals

wizard zines focuses on fundamentals: things that haven’t changed much in the last 10 years and that probably won’t change much in the next 10 either. That’s why there’s a zine about HTTP and not, say, the Python requests module. HTTP/1.1 was defined in 1997! The basics haven’t changed since 1997 because we need backwards compatibility on the web!

Fundamentals are important for 2 reasons:

2. everyone needs to learn new things

One thing I think is unfortunate about programming culture is that “knowing fundamentals is really helpful!” can sometimes turn really gatekeeper-y (“oh, you don’t know how THING works? WELL YOU SHOULD!! IF YOU DON’T YOU AREN’T A REAL PROGRAMMER”). This is really unnecessary.

It’s SO NORMAL to make it 5 or 10 or 15 years in your programming career without learning something that seems “basic” about computing. We all need to learn new things to do our jobs well! And it’s BOTH:

3. just the most important ideas

We all have a lot going on. Not everyone has time to read 400-page programming books!

Each of these zines is 20-28 pages. I spend hours on each page making sure that every single one explains one or two important ideas as succinctly and clearly as I possibly can.

4. avoid jargon

The internet is FULL of unclear explanations of programming concepts that almost seem designed to make you feel dumb. They’re full of jargon and phrased in a very formal way, kind of like “These are Very Important Serious Ideas and we need to use Complicated Words to explain them accurately”.

Instead, these zines explain “hard” ideas in simple, straightforward language. It’s important to keep the explanations accurate! It’s doesn’t help anyone if the explanation is simple and fun but untrue, and sometimes you do need to use more specific language! But I avoid jargon unless it’s absolutely necessary.

5. physical books are a little bit magical

All of these zines are PDFs, and you can read them on your computer. But they all come with versions that you can print on your home printer, and I really think there’s something magical about having a printed copy.

If you print it out, you can:

You can even colour it in, like this person did:

Every zine comes with a version designed to be printed on a black & white printer, in case you don’t have a colour printer. There are print directions here.


© Julia Evans 2021 | All rights reserved (see licensing)