Sunday, September 23, 2007

Porsches and Ferraris

I once wrote about Alligators versus Crocodiles, which was a metaphor for the religious wars of syntax.

Recently, some colleagues have been experimenting with a number of programming languages. I hope to write more on this, but essentially it has renewed my interest in a variety of languages.

And, the discussion spawned another analogy.

The main thought is this: often, in CS or not, there are 2 camps
with rabid proponents. The debate between the two can get
quite heated. What gets lost in the shuffle is that both camps
are truly sublime, and that the rivalry and competition brings
parity, in terms of excellence.

Two examples outside of CS: Porsche versus Ferrari, and a
Fender Stratocaster versus a Gibson Les Paul.

I'm sure there are message boards all over the net, filled with
flames on all sides. I have my own preferences, and might even weigh into the debate, but another part of me asks: Are you kidding me? How can you knock any of these? At the same time, there are nano-level differences that polarize people.

The CS example (du jour) of 'Porsches versus Ferraris' is Python and Ruby. They have many, many similarities at the "forest level", even if the trees look different. And yet I don't know many (if anyone) who has one foot in each camp.


Eric Burke said...

Issues that are trivial and unimportant are very easy to debate because they are simple and we can wrap our heads around them. Profound, deep, complex issues are very important, but nobody debates them because these problems are, by nature, hard.

I don't think many of us relate to your auto example. Ford Versus Chevy would be a better analogy.

Michael said...

sorry eric, but I think Mike got it right... I mean, I think that he was looking for a analogy that carried with it a note of QUALITY. Then again, I guess that just verifies your observation that many won't relate to it. ;)