if programmers spent as much time programming as we do arguing about programming languages, would we understand programming?


one thing i've thought a lot lately kind of boils down to: programming languages suck, and arguing about them is fun (well, maybe it's just perverse after a while, but i try not to kinkshame and anyway it _starts out_ fun), and they're a lot of the material we have to work with, so it's natural to argue about them.

but actually: past a certain baseline of technical capability, programming languages aren't really the problem with software.

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in a narrow technical sense, we had _most_ of what it takes to make good software decades ago.

what we lacked then (and have built something almost like a perfect defense against now) are the ways to deal well with power relations, money/resources, freedom, responsibility, and basic human decency - within all of which software has become profoundly enmeshed for all of civilization, in ways that most of programmer culture really doesn't know how to address.

@brennen it's almost like it's not the technology but the people.

@brennen I mostly agree, with the exception of people still using C in 2021 outside embedded contexts; that causes all kinds of avoidable problems.

like, I reeeeeally hate golang on a personal preference level, but I accept that it's still a net win if only because it results in less C being written.

@technomancy yeah, i'm engaged in some speechifying, but there's plenty that can be improved at the language level. a lot of technical effort that would help mitigate the absolute horrorshow that is the security of everything, for example...

but then i guess to my speechifying point: a lot of that effort really needs to be supported with resources, and it would be better if it weren't supported in a way that leads to further technical capture by entities like google, and, and, and...

@brennen anyway full agreement that we have had the technology for decades and that the human factors and power dynamics are a much bigger problem than any technical problems that remain

@technomancy @brennen I also think that one's ability to see the flaws in something develops much faster than the ability to make something good; therefore, we end up with many people that can see the flaws in existing programming languages, but fewer that have the ability (or think they have the ability, at least) to make something better.

That being said, 100% agree that the problems of economic & power structures are far bigger than the technical ones

@brennen we need "governance" of the #openweb for the web by the web otherwise it will be imposed on us.

@brennen when you have a group of people debating some complex but broad issue they will talk at length about commas or spaces or variable types, because that's easy, everyone uses that, everyone understands that and can offer their opinion.

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