Guido at Google

Alex Martelli aleax at mail.comcast.net
Thu Dec 22 18:03:49 CET 2005


Carsten Haese <carsten at uniqsys.com> wrote:

> On Thu, 2005-12-22 at 07:01, Peter Hansen wrote:
> > bonono at gmail.com wrote:
> > > So exactly how high is python in Google's priority list ? Or in other
> > > words, if python is in a stand still as it is now, what would be the
> > > impact to Google ? 
> > 
> > Since when is Python in a standstill?
> 
> I believe bonono meant the question in the hypothetical sense of "If
> Python would stand still in its current state, what would be the impact
> to Google?" but didn't know how to ask it correctly.

Answering generically rather than on the basis of any inside
information, like for any other technology, a lot would depend on how
other technologies "competing" for similar uses are faring.

If _every_ programming language were suddenly to undergo the same
"standing still", then the technological stasis would affect every
company using programming languages, regardless of their specific
technology choices: productivity growth would slow across the board (not
stop, of course -- cfr. e.g. Tenner's "Our Own Devices" for very
readable analysis of the effects of the developments of technology
versus technique) but the competitive situation would be unaffected.

If, on the other hand, technology X was to suddently stand still while
competing technology Y keeps showing real improvements, this would
progressively tilt the competitive playing field against companies
heavily invested in X and not in Y; eventually such companies would have
to pay the costs of switching to Y, or suffer a deterioration in their
competitive position.

That Google's heavily invested in Python is hardly inside information (I
believe we have a quote to that effect by Peter Norvig on python.org).

Of course, this pretty obvious analysis treats "Python" as a whole
technology -- it doesn't particularly care whether "improvements" come
to the language per se, to the libraries, to the implementation, etc, it
just takes as "improvement" any change that does enhance existing users'
productivity (indeed, changes that do so without requiring any training
or much work, such as compiling an unchanged language to faster code,
might have more immediate impact than new language features, which would
only enter into use slowly and gradually).


Alex



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