Code Quarterly - The Hackademic Journal

This will probably interest many LtU readers:

Code Quarterly is a new publication [edited by Peter Seibel] that intends to publish in-depth articles of interest to hackers...

Here are some of the kinds of articles we hope to publish:

* Technical explanations – Pieces that explain a concept and why we should care...
* Code reads – guided tours through code that demonstrates interesting programming techniques or which is simply well-put-together, beautiful code.
* Q&A interviews – in-depth interviews with notable programmers.
* Think pieces – pieces about not-entirely-technical issues hackers would care about...
* Computer history – articles that take a look back at where our ideas about computers came from.
* Book reviews

If this sounds interesting and you can see yourself as either a a reader or a potential contributor hop over to the site and let them know.

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Also feel free to email me

if you have any questions, comments, flames, or good wishes. You can reach me at I'm currently preparing to interview Hal Abelson so if you have anything you think I should ask him, feel free to let me know by email or, I suppose, by comments here if it's related to programming languages.

Three things

First a question — could you say more about the "Think pieces". From the CQ writing page, Think pieces – Talk about a not-strictly-technical issue that hackers would care about. For example, should the code behind scientific research be released and if so, why isn’t it? Or, how can computers be best used in kids’ education; would a somewhat theoretical piece, say a part-tutorial, part-opinion piece about the usefulness of SSA in compiler implementation, be within scope?

Second — I'd like to encourage you to seek works of less than 8,000 words long. Shorter, more quickly digestible pieces are good for academic journals (think about the early "gems" pieces in the Journal of Functional Programming), and I think they would be for yours as well.

Third, about your business model — I think pay-per-pdf is hard to get to work: are you going to demand copyright assignment from your authors? Have you considered other models, such as, say, The Hackademic Society, whose members regularly get beautifully typeset editions of the CQ, with the PDFs of individual articles being freely available online? It works for academic organisations such as the EATCS. Subscriptions are probably tax-deductible and are more likely to be covered by an employer.


Actually I think something about SSA could qualify as a plain old technical article, even if it contains partly opinion. At any rate, sounds like a good topic that should fit in somewhere.

Regarding length: yes, absolutely. I'll be writing something soon (probably on my blog) about how I've been rethinking that length requirement. We'll still publish long things (even up to and including serializing full books, if anyone wants to write them) but will also publish shorter things as well. The real measure is, how long does a piece need to be to be interesting and not superficial. (My friend came up with the tag line, "Depth first writing" which I like a lot.)

The business model is in flux. We are not planning to demand literal copyright assignment but will need fairly broad and exclusive publication rights in order to maximize our chances of being to figure out a way to make money from our articles. The authors' contract is almost done so if you're interested in contributing email me at and I'll send it to you when it's ready. Subscriptions are definitely planned.


I've long thought that programming languages would benefit from a place where hackery could meet with theory. This looks like it might be that place.


Do you really think your target audience ('hackers') are going to pay for anything? I'm incredulous to say the least. Seems like anyone who is willing to pay is already a member or has access to the ACM and|or IEEE anyway and sees the value there.

But I've been wrong more often than not so good luck.

Hackers buy books

It would be interesting to use technology and couple the idea of purchasing individual pdfs with various options for getting more substantial copies. For example, an option to get a selection of purchased pdfs on a dvd, printed in a simple binder, various e-book formats, etc.

Most books I buy I paid $4 shipped for

I read a lot and have an enormous technical library. For example, I have 11 books on C++, 20 or so on Lisp, 20 books on compilers, etc.

I generally don't splurge for a particular title unless I think it will saite some insane learning hunger I have for a particular topic (like I spent on software configuration management monographs recently), or I really want a hardcover copy of a book. For example, I paid $150 for Quinniec's LiSP book in hardcover form, because I suspected from the reviews it would be on my shelf for the next 10-20 years. Same for Kiczales Art of Metaobject Programming. Actually, books on Lisp are by far the most expensive used books in my experience. Monographs are usually way cheaper, because libraries discard them when people don't check them out, because if they can dump them on Amazon Marketplace then they can use that to fund books that may or may not be read; it's a vicious cycle.

For trade magazines, my recommendation to get me interested in consumption would be to make it really easy for me to get all historical issues in PDF format in a single zip for a single price, and subscribe for one year forward going from that. You could use some sort of power law curve for depreciating the value of old issues over time so that old issues still made money while getting the reader interested in having the whole collection.

I have access to ACM and

I have access to ACM and IEEE and still see value for CQ. The niches are different.


You pay $100/yr or whatever to the ACM, and they don't even send you the JACM...

We've discussed the ACM/IEEE before.

Still Miss "Lisp Pointers"

Way back in the day, once Lisp Pointers disappeared, I soon thereafter let my ACM membership lapse.

Not a bad point

What about a simple advertising model?

We'll see, I guess

Hard to say. As someone else pointed out, people do buy books. And I know from my own experience and from talking to other tech book authors, that modern tech book publishers often skimp on the editing which is, I suspect, why tech books are of such mixed quality. I'm hoping that CQ, by putting more effort into the editing side, will be a source of more uniformly high quality stuff. If we can pull that off, I'm hoping that people will pay for it. Anyway, it seems something worth trying.

Discussing business models

Discussing business models for publishing is, of course, way off topic for LtU... I think the issue is rather serious, and affects the issues we do discuss here, which is why I allow it to come up from time to time. I think there may be solutions and approaches than can work (I have my own ideas on just how this can be done, of course), but talking about the specifics is not on topic for LtU.


Absolutely right. Apologies.

Was reply was totally

Your reply was totally appropriate. I didn't mean to say otherwise. Sorry about that.