I first heard of him in 2007 when I encountered Why's (poignant) Guide to Ruby, which I thought was highly original, funny and even helped me to learn Ruby! (It didn't hurt that Ruby itself is a charming language.)
I also tried his Hackety Hack - an environment for learning Ruby - with my son. But sadly we didn't get much past the first lesson because it kept crashing.
_why appears to be a highly creative guy and I found his work inspirational, if not a little sobering when I think of my own minuscule contribution to the world. He puts me in mind of this paragraph from Seth Godin's Linchpin:
The gift of art instantly creates a bond between the artist and the recipient. A priceless gift has been given, one that can never be valued monetarily or paid for or reciprocated. The benefit to the artist is the knowledge that you changed in some way, not that you will repay him. And so your only possible response is to make the tribe stronger.
I've only just realised that _why has apparently "disappeared," which puts me in mind of this paragraph from the same book:
Art is scarce; scarcity creates value. Gifts make tribes stronger. Organisations will always strive to replace replaceable elements with cheaper substitutes. But generous artists aren't easily replaceable.
I'll be checking out more of _why's work, including potion.
Update: ...and maybe I'll try to do something fun on Whyday. (One line in particular on that page catches my eye: "You can work to maintain some of the software Why left us (although Why is more about creating beautiful new things than polishing old things)." I find the idea of being more of a Starter than a Finisher simultaneously attractive and annoying, speaking as more of a Finisher than a Starter.)