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Re: An interesting and poignant quote

by Anonymous Monk
on Apr 01, 2001 at 04:09 UTC ( #68736=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to An interesting and poignant quote

This apparent impoliteness has a bit more to do with the technical nature of the discussion. If I were discussing fine films or fine wines with someone I might let them get away with generalizations such as "the French certainly do make great ones". But as a programmer I could not let someone get away with the inaccurate statement "all operating systems use / as a directory separator".

If I were the quibbling type discussing films and wine I might be inclined to point out some of the lesser French films or wines so that my friend might not try to lead me into the falsehood that "all French films and wines are fine". But that would be irksome to my friend the Franco-eonophilic film buff.

To let the programmer in this example get away with their untruth without a remark would be somewhat impolite of me. It is not that I want to embarass or berate them personally that I feel compelled to point out the falsity of their assertion. I feel compelled to point out counterexamples, presumably because we are discussing code. Code differs from wine and films in that a computer may be asked to interpret it at some time. Hopefully at that time it will be correct. Hopefully the human that wrote it has learned something about the intracacies of computers by the time they "release" it. A strictly technical discussion is nothing personal really.

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Re (tilly) 2: An interesting and poignant quote
by tilly (Archbishop) on Apr 01, 2001 at 06:49 UTC
    Most of the flamewars you see computing geeks engage in (eg emacs vs vi, Perl vs Python, do you hang braces and cuddle else's) are not fundamentally meaningful.

    One of the reasons is that in programming there is a lot of domain-specific information which you need to know. Many times there are different but roughly equivalent ways of doing things. Which one you choose doesn't really matter. Not having to deal with both at once, does. A lot. In other words expertise is fragile. Guru-hood is easily lost from apparently small changes in your working environment.

    So before your next flame war, stop and think about what you are arguing about. The odds are pretty good that it is one of these important irrelevancies. This is almost certainly true for most of the "religious wars" that you see.

    Hiding that behind an attitude that you are, "Just pointing out the facts, Ma-am!" is disingenuous at best. You are being destructive. Before doing that give it careful thought. Why do you feel so strongly? Do you believe that the other person will find an immediate improvement in their life from taking your advice? Are you being a rigid asshole who refuses to change because you are scared to suddenly be incompetent in a new world?

    Yes, there are things that matter. But most of the ones that matter to you personally are not based on anything more meaningful than the fact that they preserve your domain based expertise. (Which I assure you will largely be lost by changes in programming over the next 5 years.)

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