Absolutes

November 23rd, 2007  |  Published in commentary, design  |  3 Comments  |  Bookmark on Pinboard.in

One of my favorite bloggers is Reg Braithwaite. He writes extremely well, and every one of his posts, even when he posts only links, is worth reading.

Judging from this comment Reg made on another blog, it seems that he’s being accused of being an absolutist, in this case regarding static typing. In that comment he writes:

I am going to challenge you now. I am not trying to provoke a fight, I honesty want YOU to go away and say hmmm. Why is it that you are trying to paint me as such an absolutist, that when I say “I like static typing but I’m currently achieving my personal goals with a dynamic language” that I must be against static typing?

and he summarizes his comment with this:

But I would encourage you to consider the possibility that others, such as myself, are not as rigid in their mindset. I’m very proud of the work I’ve done using some extreme “type torture” in C++ to impose constraints on programs. I’m also very proud of some of the work I’ve done in Ruby. I have no difficulty embracing each in its own way.

After all, one roadhouse can host both kinds of music, Country AND Western.

Reg’s comments really struck a chord with me; not only do I completely understand where he’s coming from, but I especially like the Blues Brothers reference as well. :-) Seems like anytime I post about my preferences for REST and dynamic languages, I receive a number of blog comments that are nothing more than unfriendly flaming rants accusing me of absolutism. It kinda makes me laugh, given that I use 3, 4, or 5 different programming languages almost every day, and can develop a wide variety of systems, especially distributed systems, using a fairly broad range of different techniques. Simply put, I’ve been in this career for way too long to be an absolutist, except perhaps for one thing: I absolutely believe every developer should be strong in multiple programming languages and multiple approaches because there’s no single language or technique that can do it all.

Actually, now that I think about it, here’s a couple more absolutes:

  • I moderate absolutely all blog comments.
  • I’m happy to post all reasonable comments that actually make a useful point, regardless of whether the writer agrees or disagrees with me. But if you try to post a rant, or try to turn a technical discussion into a pointless argument about absolutes, I can absolutely guarantee you that your comment won’t appear here.

Responses

  1. Joe Campbell says:

    November 25th, 2007 at 9:20 am (#)

    What a wonderful post. I have posted several times along these lines as well, but it seems that people continue to miss the point. I was attempting to drive home the idea that it doesn’t make sense to be locked into one way of doing things. Ala, I’m right, you’re wrong – or – static typing is better then dynamic language. From my perspective they are just two more things to know, to more ways to do some ‘work’. Two more tools in the box.

  2. nothing happens says:

    November 26th, 2007 at 3:21 pm (#)

    [...] finally, most unfortunately, they tend to be absolutists. Perhaps such an absolutism is a part of the mindset that’s required to believe [...]

  3. Matthias says:

    December 2nd, 2007 at 4:21 am (#)

    True that. I find, however, that weighing my argument too carefully, considering all ifs and buts, can drive discussion to a halt. The only agreement you’ll reach is “well, it’s complicated”. To get someone excited and convinced, I need to wear an absolutist hat for a while.