Programming languages and the Christian faith

Yesterday I had the honor to chair the panel at the Finnish Multi-core Day, with distinguished panelists form world leading companies (Intel, ARM, Nokia) as well as Swedish and Finnish universities. At some point someone raised the issue of programming languages and whether we will ever see convergence – at which point I had a revelation ūüėČ . Isn’t this really the same thing as with the Christian faith?!

In the good old days, there was only one religion (language): the¬†Catholic¬†one (Fortran), with just a few heretics (Lisp) on the side. Then, reformation came, sparked by Luther (the C language) and Pandora’s box was thrown wide open: Calvinists, Unitarians,¬†Presbyterians, Baptists etc (C++, Java, Erlang, Scala, Prolog etc) all emerged and claimed to be the ‘real’ one, only to capture just a minority of believers (programmers). Is there a way to unify everything back? Not in religion, I believe, and not in programming languages. Does it matter? Not really, I feel that if need comes, I can pray (program) in any church (using any language’s infrastructure). In fact, James Reinders‘ (Intel) answer to the question was: learn as many languages as you can – certainly a wise advise, applicable outside programming as well.

Another nugget of deep wisdom came later on during the day, when¬†Erik Hagersten used a nice metaphor in his talk: those who create a new language are like those who pee in their pants; they think it’s hot, but no one else can feel it ;-). Was he inspired by Anssi Vanjoki’s opinion about those going the Android way? I don’t know, but it is certainly worth pausing and thinking about how we want to develop new languages, be those domain specific languages or general purpose ones – I still believe there’s value in there, but we must keep the ecosystem in mind, always.

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