I have been inspired by many unknown personalities all over the internet and otherwise, but a few linger on my mind consistently to be listed here. Not all of them are authors but their works inspired me in some way.
Kalki R. Krishnamurthy
A great writer, and freedom fighter, who effortlessly balanced content against gripping narration. He pioneered in writing under a unique genre — Historical Fiction — by mixing imagination with facts in the right amount and proved that it can be done with great success. He’s the only author I have seen to give evidences in a fictional work. Though Tamil is my mother tongue, I am sure I am unbiased here.
Witty, provoking and insightful writer of technical topics. I like many of his articles, but these come up readily:
- Can your programming language do this?
- Perils of Java Schools
- The Law of Leaky Abstractions
- In Defense of Not-Invented-Here Syndrome
Eris S. Raymond
Hacker, writer who defined the defining characteristics of a hacker. If you are a programmer, or are aspiring to becoming a good one, I strongly recommend you know
Dennis M. Ritchie
He’s creator of the C programming language, co-author of The C Programming Language and the poster child for the Unix Philosophy; it shows in his language design. His writings are, to me, the canonical example of clear, concise technical content. If you haven’t read The Evolution of the Unix Time-sharing system, do so to see how pipes came into computers and why coroutines are cool.
The founder of BetterExplained.com. If you haven’t been to this excellent site, head there now! You’ll be wondering why your teachers weren’t this good. Recommended reading:
Scott H. Young
This man successfully completed MIT’s 4-year undergraduate computer science curriculum in 12 months, without taking any classes. He also propagandised the Feynman technique you may use to learn any topic in any domain. He has written many great articles of which one stands out as an inspiration. He suggests writing down when you’ve a problem; any problem. Talking and thinking leads to more confusions since there’s no structure to it; writing down your traumatic experience, OTOH, gives clarity and shape to your thoughts. Helps alleviate the suffering and misconceptions around it. This works even for trauma patients (expressive writing).
He needs no introduction. His essays on Physics are the go-to literature if you are an amateur physicist. He devised the Feynman technique for learners venturing into new fields.
An astronomer behind the SETI project. I like him more for Cosmos; I could really appriciate the cause he was calmly fighting for in it; it’s relevent even now that there’re re-makes of it. I always fall for his Pale Blue Dot; makes me realise how insignificant humans are in the grand scheme of things and reminds me to make good use of the limited time I have.
Big fan of his comedies, but as a creator, he freely shares his secret recipe: The Seinfeld Technique. I have benefited from this technique more than once to develop better habits.
I was dumb struck when I watched his Ted talk that explains the experiencing self and the remembering self. I came to know its implications later when I started mediating.
People like Salman Khan, the educator, Amit Patel, whose blog is a treasure trove of interactive articles for a game developer, and numerous other open source developers like Richard M Stallman, Linus Torvalds, who open up their work for the betterment of humanity and respect freedom are my inspirations too.