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Re: PG: Hackers and Painters
On 15 May 2003, Bruce Lewis wrote:
> Geoffrey Knauth <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes:
> > When children learn to walk or talk, do we parents squash their joy
> > (and ours) with a "You aren't the first!" Hardly.
> Children see others walking and talking, but it doesn't squash their
> joy to see that they aren't the first. I think it depends on the
> attitude with which old-timers tell the story. You remember someone
> coming up with the same idea 30 years ago? It must be a really good
> idea to be so memorable. All the more credit to someone who reinvents
The problem is that "new" ideas in programming are almost always
incompatible with the old ones.
Suppose that the new generation collectively decided to walk in such a way
that all the accessory technologies created by the previous generation
were completely useless. Shoes, socks, bicycles, wheelchair ramps, and
even walking paths in parks -- all would be unusable with the new,
"improved" version of walking.
The new generation would gleefully reinvent new versions all these things,
while the old generation would point out that it's all a collossal waste
of time and money -- all that was really necessary was for the new
generation to walk the same way.
It is the duty of those who have "been there" to point out when those who
have not are wasting their time. It is *not* their duty to just smile and
content themselves with the fact that the newcomers are at least striving
towards the same goals, despite not taking advantage of all the work that
has already been done.
Some ideas should not be reinvented, unless they also have a way to
interoperate with what came before; file formats and internet protocols,
for example. Other ideas are meant to be continually reinvented;
patterns, for example. And some ideas are in between; execution models
and syntax, for example.