A First-Generation American
March 14, 2008
I love it when technologists write about the human side of the geekery, and Giles Bowkett's post about Rubyfrom a few months ago, which I just got sent a link to this week, captures some beautiful truths that exist in both code and in culture.
Harmony and balance make you feel good. American Rubyists frequently take up all the points of Ruby's power, expressiveness, and efficiency, but they don't seem to register the point that Ruby was designed to make you feel good. Even Rubyists who want to explain why Ruby makes them feel good often fail to mention that it was expressly designed for that exact purpose. ...
JRuby is a first-generation American - a child born here of one foreign parent, Ruby itself. I'm a first-generation American too, and even though I have two human, English parents, rather than one Japanese parent made of code, I think I feel JRuby's pain here. So I'm just going to tell you - every first-generation American sees this happen all the time. Some idea from another country or culture disappears like mist scattered by winds unless Americans already have a synonym for it. If they don't have a word for it, they don't have a box to put it in, and the idea just falls through the cracks.
Religious wars over programming languages are just silly. The messianic zeal of Christianity's shameful Crusades a thousand years ago still lingers on in Western culture, and one glaring example is the ludicrous idea that there should be one true language or one true editor, or one ring to rule them all. It's much better when programmers can work in multiple languages, multiple editors, and multiple environments. Diversity is healthy for ecologies. This is a point Neal makes in his podcast - he calls it polyglot programming, which is to say multilingual programming. He calls it a positive trend, and I agree.
Whether you call it diversity, competition, or a lack of monoculture, I believe in it. And I do think it's a fundamental requirement for a healthy culture, whether in society or in technology.