Re: Scott Rosenberg’s Code Reads #11: Notes on Postmodern Programming

Scott Rosenberg’s Wordyard » Blog Archive » Code Reads #11: Notes on Postmodern Programming

For me, the most important sentence in the paper is the first one:

The ultimate goal of all computer science is the program. [..] Designers, programmers, engineers, we must all return to programming!

I also strongly agree with their view that computer science is sufficient for itself. We still have a lot of research to do in programming, and only a small part of it has anything to do with algorithms and type systems. The paper presents a convincing tale of how programs are really developed. How come there isn’t research on the role of copy-and-paste in programming? Why are we so fixed on formal proofs? There are a lot of other sciences we could draw knowledge from beside mathematics. I personally think it’s time we started looking at programming language linguistics. For example, is the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis applicable in programming?

But then, there’s the whole categorization stuff, and this is where the paper fails in my view. Design Patterns is post-modern? The way I see it, it’s an example of a grand narrative! Sun’s JVM is modern, but Microsoft’s CLR is post-modern except its code veirifer, which is “the apparatus of power”? And isn’t all this concept of categorizing too modern? After all, “‘Tsall good”, isn’t?

When I first read the paper I liked both its form and content, although in time I have become weay of the over-use of the word post-modern in many fields, specially in science. Sometimes post-modernism has been used to replace real research, or to avoid taking a stand for some theory. I wouldn’t like a repeat of the science wars in programming. But, then again, scientist are having a “war” because many of them are thinking on what is science. When will we start thinking on what is programming?

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