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Re: another take on hackers and painters

Michael Vanier wrote:
> ...
> 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."

I've actually never met anyone who holds that point of view. You're 
telling me that there are programming language researchers who think 
that it isn't worth doing database research???

> ...  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. 

Not in my experience. Maybe you need to get out of California. ;)

> ... 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.

I don't think it is at all a clear case that "Perl and Python are both 
much stronger because of the influence they've had on each other." The 
lion genome gets stronger because of competition with the tiger genome. 
Yes, to a point. But the organisms are also in competition for 
_resources_ and sharing those resources has a cost. If competition 
always made one stronger then there would be no species that are extent 
by virtue of being "out-competed." But there are. Even in programming 
languages. Sather 1.1 is "due to be released in September, 1995" in part 
because a bunch of the Sather people spent their time and energy on 
generics for Java. http://stoutamire.com/david/publications.html

I claim that there is a plausible alternate universe where Java was not 
invented, Sun or IBM stumbled upon Sather and college graduates are 
asked for 5 years of experience in S2EE. But Sather was starved of 

  Paul Prescod