Python is readable

Nathan Rice nathan.alexander.rice at
Fri Mar 30 04:26:38 CEST 2012

> He did no such thing. I challenge you to find me one place where Joel has
> *ever* claimed that "the very notion of abstraction" is meaningless or
> without use.

"When great thinkers think about problems, they start to see patterns.
They look at the problem of people sending each other word-processor
files, and then they look at the problem of people sending each other
spreadsheets, and they realize that there's a general pattern: sending
files. That's one level of abstraction already. Then they go up one
more level: people send files, but web browsers also "send" requests
for web pages. And when you think about it, calling a method on an
object is like sending a message to an object! It's the same thing
again! Those are all sending operations, so our clever thinker invents
a new, higher, broader abstraction called messaging, but now it's
getting really vague and nobody really knows what they're talking
about any more. Blah.

When you go too far up, abstraction-wise, you run out of oxygen.
Sometimes smart thinkers just don't know when to stop, and they create
these absurd, all-encompassing, high-level pictures of the universe
that are all good and fine, but don't actually mean anything at all."

To me, this directly indicates he views higher order abstractions
skeptically, and assumes because he does not see meaning in them, they
don't hold any meaning.  Despite Joel's beliefs, new advances in
science are in many ways the result of advances in mathematics brought
on by very deep abstraction.  Just as an example, Von Neumann's
treatment of quantum mechanics with linear operators in Hilbert spaces
utilizes very abstract mathematics, and without it we wouldn't have
modern electronics.

I'm 100% behind ranting on software hype.  Myopically bashing the type
of thinking that resulted in the computer the basher is writing on,
not so much.  If he had said "if you're getting very high up, find
very smart people and talk to them to make sure you're not in wing nut
territory" I could have given him a pass.

I really wish people wouldn't try to put Joel up on a pedestal.  The
majority of his writings either seem like sensationalist spins on
tautological statements, self aggrandizement or luddite trolling.  At
least Stephen Wolfram has cool shit to back up his ego, Fog Creek
makes decent but overpriced debuggers/version control/issue
trackers... From my perspective, Stack Overflow is the first really
interesting thing Joel had his hand in, and I suspect Jeff Atwood was
probably the reason for it, since SO doesn't look like anything Fog
Creek ever produced prior to that.

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