Programmers and languages



Eight months ago, I (re)learned the Nim programming language, as mentioned in a blog post at the time. It proved a good choice for a handful of filler projects, but nothing else since. For some others it just didn't work out. And I dismissed that as normal... until yesterday, when the official website published the transcript of a conference presentation from earlier this year, named Zen of Nim

How badly I misunderstood this language and its creator. To wit:

If the compiler cannot reason about the code, neither can the programmer.

Unh... Look. You... realize the compiler is a dumb machine, while the programmer is a human being, right? Who is almost certainly about as intelligent as you are. Which is much less than you think you are. Otherwise you'd trust your fellow programmers a little, or at least give them the benefit of the doubt.

There should be one and only one programming language for everything.

That... is just plain dangerous, in addition to being false. Monocultures are a recipe for disaster, for many reasons.

I stopped reading at that point, but now I'm thinking. Ours is a culture of arrogance, itself built on top of a mentality that values "intelligence" (or rather a narrow, skewed definition thereof) above all else, including practicality, never mind the actual needs of others. But this is too much.

Having a safety on your gun is good. Having to solve a sliding puzzle every time you need to fire the gun makes it useless.

And that's why Python is the most popular language in the world right now, while this new crop of compiled languages struggles to find adopters. Unless, of course, they have the backing of Google or Mozilla, with their marketing power.

Funny that, I thought it was a meritocracy, where the best X genuinely wins.


Tags: programming, critique