Encouraging Python adoption in your organization

Ian J Cottee ian at cottee.org
Mon Oct 4 16:23:45 CEST 2004

Neil Benn wrote:
> Ian J Cottee wrote:
>> Daniel Dittmar wrote:
>>> On the other hand, Paul Graham paints Java programmers as dimwits. So 
>>> quoting him is likely to start a flamewar. This is perhaps not the 
>>> best choice from a diplomatic point of view.
>> That is not what he said or meant. As he himself clarifies:
>> """In a recent talk I said something that upset a lot of people: that 
>> you could get smarter programmers to work on a Python project than you 
>> could to work on a Java project.
>> I didn't mean by this that Java programmers are dumb. I meant that 
>> Python programmers are smart. It's a lot of work to learn a new 
>> programming language. And people don't learn Python because it will 
>> get them a job; they learn it because they genuinely like to program 
>> and aren't satisfied with the languages they already know.
>> Which makes them exactly the kind of programmers companies should want 
>> to hire. Hence what, for lack of a better name, I'll call the Python 
>> paradox ... """
>> http://www.paulgraham.com/pypar.html
>> Ian
> Hello,
> You can quote it in different ways :
> ---
> But when you choose a language, you're also choosing a community. The 
> programmers you'll be able to hire to work on a Java project won't be as 
> smart <http://www.paulgraham.com/pypar.html> as the ones you could get 
> to work on a project written in Python
> ---

(disclaimer - it's late, very tired and should go to bed soon, blah 
blah, yada yada)

Anyway - he explains the reasoning. The reasoning is that if you took 
100 programmers who call themselves Java Programmers and 100 programmers 
who call themselves Python Programmers you are most likely going to find 
different characteristics within the two groups. Python programmers are 
unlikely to be as focussed on financial reward as Java programmers. 
Python programmers are however more likely to be endowed with a love of 
the art of programming.

Now I'm not sure if I agree with the statement and frankly, having two 
kids and an expensive wife I'm not sure if I'd call myself intelligent 
for NOT jumping onto the Java bandwagon ;). But I do understand the point.

> This is from his _own_website - he then follows it up with :
> ---
> Though, frankly, the fact that good hackers prefer Python to Java should 
> tell you something about the relative merits of those languages.
> ---

Elsewhere he states who he believes to be great hackers. He knows all of 
them and therefore I guess he knows what they prefer. I think he also 
says that he doesn't feel he can pass judgment on people he does not 
know (or has worked with). So it might just be that he doesn't get on 
with Java programmers of course ;)

> Next we have :
> ---
> And of all the great programmers I can think of who don't work for Sun, 
> on Java, I know of zero.

As above

> ---
>    On the retract posted above :
> ---
> It's a lot of work to learn a new programming language.
> -- 
>    The response on this would be - 'but you just told me that python is 
> 'easy to learn''.

I agree with him and you. Python is easy to learn but it's still a lot 
of work to drop your current language, your knowledge of it and risk 
moving elsewhere. Especially if you are taking your employers (or 
employees) with you.

>    Although that was probably retracted afterwards - the fact that that 
> quote exists will be picked up people.  I'm not insulting the quality of 
> writing as it is a very well written article - it just isn't gonna help 
> anyone trying to advocate python in a sensible business, that kind of 
> retort sounds like an American election campaign!!

Ooooh ... that hurt! But I agree with that. I don't think he's planning 
at talking at any Java conventions soon. I just don't agree he's calling 
Java programmers stupid.

peace, beer, cool things


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