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The weblog of Tony Morris

Yes you are in a cult, no I don’t recognise its legitimacy

Posted on April 5, 2008, in Programming

I was trolled yesterday – I think – I still don’t quite know what “troll” means, since it seems to be a universally applicable verb to describe an action that you dislike. Maybe I wasn’t trolled. I was in the #ocaml programming language channel when a user started displaying an ignorance of the Haskell programming language. I made a small effort to point out that the propositions being put forward were incorrect, but it turns out that “of course I would say that, I am a Haskeller” and so the truth value of the propositions were never explored.

No, I am not a Haskeller. I am not an anti-Java, O’Caml hating, Scala using Haskell worshipper. I completely reject this attempt to assign cult status to the various programming languages. As a matter of fact, I completely reject the existence of the concept of X Programmer for any value of X such that X is an element of the set of all computer programming languages. Correct, Java programmers do not exist. Try telling that to your local recruitment agent.

The corporations are having a field day, while amateurs continue to repeat the many different brand/meme names. “Oh hi, I am a C# Programmer, what religion… err programming language fraternity do you belong to?”. My criticisms of Java do not stem from a personal distaste or apostasy; they stem from the fact that it is indeed, far removed from anything useful, practical or resembling soundness in the practice of computer programming.

Can you imagine two motor mechanics discussing their day jobs where one says, “I am an NGK spark plug installer”, to which the other replies, “oh, I am a Champion spark plug installer, but I use NGK on my own vehicle”? It is this degree of absurdity that I assign to any notion of Java Programmer, Haskeller or what-have-you. It is simply and extremely ridiculous. No really, it is. I won’t pretend otherwise despite any scoffing.

Take for example, the distinction between Java and C#, which is almost zero, in the greater scheme of computer programming language theory. What benefit does distinguishing a “C# Programmer” from a “Java Programmer” give? It serves only to resemble status and cult membership. They are both utterly useless as computer programming languages (yes, this is despite their popularity). Members of both of these cults will scorn at this proposition simply because it appears provocative and causes offence – not because there is evidence to the contrary (there is an enormous amount of evidence supporting the affirmative position, but that’s another topic). What if it is true?

I predict that the many members of the current (why was I born in this era?!) anti-intellectualism establishment probably wouldn’t read this rant to this point, so I’m probably preaching to the choir when I point out that the practice of computer programming is founded on various fields of mathematics.

What does this have to do with the latest advertisement on msdn.com or whatever bullshit marketing material you subscribe to? Nothing. Not a bit. So no, I’m not in your cult, I’m not in cults that rival you, I’m not in a cult that considers itself superior or inferior to yours. I’m an independent thinker.

Your inability to see beyond subscription to cleverly-constructed brand naming is complete bullshit, that’s what it is.