I forgot to mention that on Wednesday I attended part of The
Conway Channel 2005, starring Damian Conway. I
wanted to attend this since I’ve heard that Conway is a great speaker,
and plus I was curious about the state of Perl. My impression has
been that Perl is dying and furthermore doing so in a spectacularly
goofy way, what with the Apocalypse and Exegesis
stuff, but I wanted to see it more closely.
The talk itself is hard-core perl stuff, mostly Damian whipping
through a series of problems and showing how to solve them. In all
the cases I saw (I didn’t stay for the whole talk), the solution was
to write a new Perl module that did the required wacky thing. In most
cases this seemed to be along the lines of “Look! Perl can somehow
simulate a trivial scheme macro!” This isn’t really a slam against
Perl per se, but rather our slow collective reinvention of lisp.
I left this talk early. It was SRO, a fact which I found bizarre
until Dalibor explained the OSCON/Perl connection, and I was tired.
Perl, at least according to the book stats, is in fact slowly dying,
though more slowly than I had imagined. Also it is apparently still a
requirement for a sysadmin job — though I doubt my Perl 4.x skills
would still qualify me.
This has nothing to do with OSCON per se, but rather is something
I had thought of and forgotten about until I saw the Perl and Python
talks. I ran across this quote recently:
Darwin’s greatest achievement was that he showed that Aristotle’s idea
of teleology, the so-called fourth cause, does not exist.
And, I was thinking, how does this apply to programming languages?
Clearly strongly typed languages, in particular those with fixed
notions of class, are anti-Darwinian and thus wrong. Instead we
should be programming with biopopulation-like languages, say smalltalk