I remember we used to make jokes that went something like “What's the scariest thing you'll find wandering the halls of the engineering school? A programmer with a screwdriver.”
But we were wrong. A programmer with a screwdriver can only do so much damage. To really fuck things up, a programmer needs a keyboard.
Years and years ago I gave a tutorial the the Perl Conference called Tricks of the Wizards. (I should really make that publically available. Someone please remind me later.) In this talk I was careful to explain that I was not, myself, a wizard; I was only presenting the tricks of the wizards. Wizards canonically wear large pointy hats with astonomical figures on them. Lorrie made me a small hat with astronomical figures.
But a few years later at YAPC, Larry Wall gave a keynote in which he analogized different members of the Perl community to characters in Lord of the Rings, and admonished us to not underestimate the hobbits. Talking to Larry afterwards, he remarked that I was one of their best elves.
“Really?” I said. “I think of myself as clearly a dwarf, crafty and irritable, toiling alone in my underground cavern, forging marvelous jewels for myself and magical tools for other people to use.”
Then Larry paid me a compliment I will treasure my whole life. He said that I was a wizard, because the role of wizards is to be able to get separate groups to work together, by virtue of not being part any group themselves.
Well then! If Larry Wall said I was a wizard, I was a wizard. I eliminated the disclaimer from my talk, and I asked Lorrie to make me a full-sized hat:
She also made one for Placido the octopus, who accompanies me to all my conference talks.