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Re: another take on hackers and painters

> Date: Sun, 25 May 2003 13:40:55 -0400
> From: Dan Sugalski <dan@sidhe.org>
> At 8:52 AM -0700 5/24/03, Paul Prescod wrote:
> >Dan Sugalski wrote:
> >
> >I guess there is an unbridgable gap in perceptions there.
> I don't think the gap is unbridgeable. I think it's more getting 
> people to realize that there is a gap, and that behavior that is 
> appropriate in one problem domain may not be appropriate in another, 
> and that there really are many problem domains.
> The latter is, I think, the biggest problem. It's very easy to slide 
> from "this is the area that I find interesting" to "this is the only 
> area that is interesting" to "this is the only area". Or to go from 
> "This is my way" to "this is the only way". Partly this comes from a 
> sort of arrogance that programming brings on--we can make these 
> machines do whatever we want if we're clever enough, and that does 
> induce a bit of ego. It's also partly because computers are used in 
> such a vast range of places and ways that it's likely impossible to 
> keep them all straight, so we don't realize that there are other 
> requirements in other places.

FWIW this is a classic problem in any creative domain.  Many, if not most,
of the scientists I've known would essentially say "this is what I'm
interested in, and now I'm going to try to convince you that it's the
*only* thing worth doing."  Part of the blame for this, I think, is the
government grant system which rewards those who can not only argue
effectively that their work is good but that everyone else's work is bad,
so that therefore they deserve ALL of the funding.  Someone (I forget who)
once said "it's not enough that I succeed; others must also fail."  I've
never understood this attitude, but it seems to be extremely common.  In
the current context, it would be "it's not enough that language X become
popular; language Y must wither and die".  Of course, if language Y was VB
or Cobol, I wouldn't protest too loudly ;-) but I think this misses the
point of how much languages can learn from each other.  Certainly, perl and
python are both much stronger because of the influence they've had on each
other, and I don't see this as a bad thing.