Many thanks to Tristan Morris for creating a beautiful illustrated hardcover print edition of the site


The next day dawned bright and sticky-warm. Bread was shared, the donkey was watered and re-laden, and the trio set out into a morning buzzing with insects.

“Imagine,” said Aaradhya, “that you have journeyed far from home and found yourself in a strange village of shopkeepers. It is evening, and you are hungry. You learn that the cook will serve you stew but requires red lentils, curry leaves, and water in trade; the farmer will give you the lentils but requires seeds and the loan of an ox...”

In Aaradhya’s hypothetical village there were also merchants who controlled warehouses brimming with all manner of useful things, items produced by some shopkeepers and needed by others—precious spices, planks of sturdy wood, fine saws, barrels of lamp oil. The merchants belonged to a respected guild called the DAO.

“Domestic Archive Overseers,” explained Aaradhya. “Their sole function is to store, manage, and retrieve Valuable Objects...”

As she spoke Aaradhya untied various odds and ends from the bundle on the donkey’s back, using them as props. Tarun listened. The grandfather walked ahead of them with his parasol, saying nothing, although sometimes he would nod or shake his head.

When they stopped for a meal he pulled Aaradhya aside.

“You teach by metaphor.”

“It is how my C++ master taught. He used to say: a software system is a civilization of objects.

“Very pretty. But when the boy interviews for an apprenticeship they will not ask him to recite proverbs. He must know how to build things.”

Aaradhya waved to the boy, who was feeding the donkey. “Tarun,” she called. “You are now the mayor of our little village. Wealthy strangers will soon arrive in town to buy iron cookpots: which of our shopkeepers shall make them? The carpenter, who already makes pot-handles? The jeweler, who already crafts with metal? The potter, who already makes pots of clay?”

“None of these, Madam,” said Tarun. “The village needs an ironmonger.”

“Please tell your grandfather why.”

“Because no one seeking an iron cookpot will think to ask a carpenter.”

Aaradhya turned to the grandfather, a satisfied smile playing at the corner of her mouth. “Much of what he needs to know already lies within him. The rest is just syntax.”