October 23rd, 2007

Zing!

I prolonged my OOPSLA stay by a few extra hours when Yannick pointed out the superstar language panel this morning.

I'm too tired to recap much, but here's a an inexact paraphrase of an amusing interchange.

David Ungar asked the panel, "Languages can encourage the programmer to think about programming in new ways. I try to encourage creativity by reducing the cognitive load of irrelevant details. What do you try to encourage in programmers through language design?" After a bit of discussion:

Steele: "David spoke of encouraging creativity as a primary goal of language design. Other designs might try to encourage productivity, or something similar. But what form might a language take if its primary goal was to encourage programmer self-esteem?"

Gosling: "Isn't that what Perl is for?"

(Gosling ruined it a bit by adding more explanation after the punchline. Ah, comedy, it ain't easy.)