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Will Online Learning Disrupt Programming Language Adoption?

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the zero-to-standard-in-5.4-months dept.

Education 193

theodp writes "Back in the day, getting traction for a new programming language was next to impossible. First, one needed a textbook publishing deal. Then, one needed a critical mass of CS profs across the country to convince their departments that your language was worth teaching at the university level. And after that, one still needed a critical mass of students to agree it was worth spending their time and tuition to learn your language. Which probably meant that one needed a critical mass of corporations to agree they wanted their employees to use your language. It was a tall order that took years if one was lucky, and only some languages — FORTRAN, PL/I, C, Java, and Python come to mind — managed to succeed on all of these fronts. But that was then, this is now. Whip up some online materials, and you can kiss your textbook publishing worries goodbye. Manage to convince just one of the new Super Profs at Udacity or Coursera to teach your programming language, and they can reach 160,000 students with just one free, not-for-credit course. And even if the elite Profs turn up their nose at your creation, upstarts like Khan Academy or Code Academy can also deliver staggering numbers of students in a short time. In theory, widespread adoption of a new programming language could be achieved in weeks instead of years or decades, piquing employers' interest. So, could we be on the verge of a programming language renaissance? Or will the status quo somehow manage to triumph?"

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This is bunk (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40922501)

So the only successful languages "back in the day" were those taught at "a critical mass" of universities?
Here, I'll start the list of counterexamples: COBOL and BASIC.

Re:This is bunk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40922901)

PHP

Re:This is bunk (1)

SomePgmr (2021234) | about 2 years ago | (#40923113)

I had a lame True BASIC course, which I just skipped until the final week. The prof was nice enough to let me just turn in all the coursework and pass the final. I thought that was cool. True Basic, not so much.

I'm plowing through the python course on Udacity now, despite being pretty comfortable in python. You never know what you've been missing, and it's really well done. Working on a useful project over the whole course is good. Working at your own pace is even better. Oh, and I enjoy the little cameos by Sergey Brin.

Re:This is bunk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40923115)

Calling COBOL and BASIC languages is like calling /dev/random literature.

Re:This is bunk (2)

SQLGuru (980662) | about 2 years ago | (#40923577)

Every once in a billion years, you can read Hamlet or some such from /dev/random.

Re:This is bunk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40923121)

BASIC was developed at Dartmouth college, I believe by the Math department. Most languages "back in the day" were University or research projects. COBOL was a corporate research project.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BASIC

I find it neat that the OP gives Internet access as a way to break down barriers. Yet, it's still hard to get people to check facts.

Re:This is bunk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40923413)

Yes, BASIC was developed at Dartmouth, but it was never widely taught by universities.

Re:This is bunk (3, Interesting)

moderatorrater (1095745) | about 2 years ago | (#40923201)

Python. That's a language that's being driven by developer adoption, not businesses or schools. Using it as an example of traditional success is ridiculous.

Re:This is bunk (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 2 years ago | (#40923697)

... and how exactly do you think successful languages should be driven?

Re:This is bunk (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40923345)

Or C++.

If universities could kill languages, they would have killed C, and even more C++. Professors at that time were looking at Pascal, Lisp, or Smalltalk as the languages forward. The braces were considered ugly and unreadable. It was industry that pushed C++ forward. The academic community finally gave up when that was the only thing left available.
Then as soon as Java came out, they ditched C++ as inferior.

Re:This is bunk (2)

tsotha (720379) | about 2 years ago | (#40923585)

Not only that, but Lisp was widely taught in universities and remained in the AI grad student backwater for decades. In fact, it wasn't until after universities decided to drop Lisp in favor of Java that it started to enjoy a renaissance, though the timing is probably coincidental.

There are a whole host of reasons companies decide to use one language over another. What's being taught in universities isn't even on the list.

Not really... (2, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about 2 years ago | (#40922521)

Projects use languages, projects need employees, and employees need proven credentials. Inertia will continue to be a huge component of language selection for decades to come. Ruby is the last language to make progress without an already big tech name pushing it and it's already more than a decade old.

Re:Not really... (3, Insightful)

datavirtue (1104259) | about 2 years ago | (#40922739)

I wish we could use all of our mod points in one big nuclear strike against a post. Secondly, I would like "Yawn" added to the list of mod choices.

Re:Not really... (5, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#40922767)

and employees need proven credentials

That's the problem with IT. If HR did chemistry hiring like HR does IT hiring we'd hear stories about people being underqualified because they used 50 ml beakers at school instead of 75 ml beakers at $job. Or "You used 2-propanol? Sorry we only hire people who use isopropyl in that synthesis."

Re:Not really... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40923837)

Except the company uses exclusively isopropyl throughout their entire chemical processing chain and switching to 2-propanol is a multi million or billion dollar effort that would take years to complete and many more years to show a return on the investment. Not to mention the environmental impact studies that would need to be performed to determine if any byproducts would harm the local environment and also testing to make sure the output did not have any adverse effects.

Using the latest and greatest process, tool, widget, language, whatever, is not always a good idea. Sometimes you should live by the motto "if it's not broke, don't fix it."

Re:Not really... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40923757)

Ruby is the last language to make progress without an already big tech name pushing it and it's already more than a decade old.

Except for Scala.

False premise (5, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 2 years ago | (#40922523)

Universities start teaching their students languages AFTER they become popular. Java was well established in industry and universities were still teaching Pascal as a first language (an excellent choice), then C. THEN they switched to teaching Java as an intro language. The students who first learned it wouldn't have had an effect on industry for another two to four years after that.

Languages get adopted by individuals, then get used in industry, THEN get taught to students.

Re:False premise (2)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#40922711)

My experience has been education is always a generation or two behind.

When I was a young pup, we all wrote C or pascal but the schools taught BASIC and FORTRAN
Later on we were writing in java, but the schools taught C++. I slogged thru "detil and detil C++" or something like that. Pink cover as I remember.
School taught 68hc11 assembly language, which is a great education, but poor training as supposedly everyone does microcontrollers in C, or at least the people that talk loudly do, I donno what people who actually write code do.
I've done a couple years of Perl and Ruby, so I assume schools are teaching awk and ... scheme or something?
I'm teaching myself scala so I assume kids now are learning scheme or java?

Re:False premise (1)

datavirtue (1104259) | about 2 years ago | (#40922797)

Java is slowly being adopted and has met great resistance at my college. I have seen that colleges are at least ten years behind in just about everything. Some things are even further behind by 15 - 20 years. Sometimes they have no idea that the tech they are behind in even exists.

Re:False premise (5, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 2 years ago | (#40923163)

Yes. And I think it's a good thing. Universities are supposed to be about education, not training. If you want training, go to a tech school.

Universities teaching something that's not the latest hot industry language means that students will learn at least a couple of languages and hopefully in the process learn how to learn languages, rather than being a trained drone.

In undergrad I learned (officially) Pascal, C, C++, Java, Prolog, x86 assembler, Motorola assembler, a couple varieties of Motorola microcontroller assembler, VB, Perl, PHP, Javascript and a bunch of things some people might call programming languages like HTML, XML, SQL, etc. Oh, and built and programmed machines (using both wires and simulation) that ran on my own machine code and assembler definition.

Now I hear people complaining bitterly about having to learn a new language.

Re:False premise (2)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 2 years ago | (#40922721)

In graduate departments though programming languages are adopted before becoming popular, even with minimal documentation or user base. Many programming languages even come from such environments.

Re:False premise (2)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 2 years ago | (#40923207)

Sure. But not because they're taught. Like my first day of grad school when my supervisor told me "I heard about this language called Python. It sounds cool. You should learn it and then teach the rest of us."

Re:False premise (1)

Monkey-Man2000 (603495) | about 2 years ago | (#40923069)

Universities start teaching their students languages AFTER they become popular. Java was well established in industry and universities were still teaching Pascal as a first language (an excellent choice), then C. THEN they switched to teaching Java as an intro language. The students who first learned it wouldn't have had an effect on industry for another two to four years after that.

Languages get adopted by individuals, then get used in industry, THEN get taught to students.

As someone that took CS 101 in '98, I should tell you that Java was the language taught Freshman year. I only stuck with CS for about 2-3 semesters (they were electives FYI :) -- but I'm still programming for work and leisure. Anyway, Java may have been "popular" but it was still 1.0-1.1 before Swing came out, and by that, and hindsight, I mean it was a total mess of shit that you couldn't get real work done in.

I still have nightmares about how I spent HOURS trying to figure out that a "deprecated" warning message during compilation wasn't an error and WOULD NOT prevent the code from working. Compile, warning, check code and change, compile, warning, check code, etc. with no actually test. Agghhhhh...

The good news from that experience was that my 1 on 1 exposure with that prof was also where I learned of vi, and I've never had to look for another code editing utility since...

Re:False premise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40923451)

Most universities never taught C. They taught "C/C++" in that time frame. Even then, the languages varied by discipline. As an electrical engineer, they taught me programming in FORTRAN (in the 1990s) first. The next language was assembly on the Motorola HC11. Later came otehr languages, like Scheme and C++. This is ignoring the specialized languages, such as those needed for programmable logic chips.

Re:False premise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40923475)

That's weird, most universities are at the forefront of research and that includes new programming languages.
Oh wait, you meant what they teach at the university.
Who cares about that, I'm in it for the research, and the paycheck of course.

The last thing we need (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40923783)

Is a lot of new languages being used willy-nilly all over the place. It's already a problem, who wants it to get worse?

They don't teach languages (5, Insightful)

Intropy (2009018) | about 2 years ago | (#40922545)

Universities do not and should not be teaching programming languages. They teach programming, the general practice. They teach the theory behind programming. They teach math. And they may teach "Programming Languages" as the study of the languages themselves with examples of real languages. But they don't teach "Python 101" or "Introduction to Haskell." A CS student is expected to be able to pick up whatever language needed given instruction in that general type of language (broadly imperative, function, and logical). A given professor may require a specific language because it's convenient to have everyone working in the same language and easier to grade that way, but that need not be what the text uses for the same topics. Indeed, the majority of texts use pseudocode that isn't in any "real" programming language.

Re:They don't teach languages (5, Insightful)

Intropy (2009018) | about 2 years ago | (#40922615)

Okay, let me temper that a little. Universities do offer instruction in specific languages. But that is generally introductory in nature. Learning a language is not the objective.

Re:They don't teach languages (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40923019)

Yes, exactly that. My local community college offers "Introduction to Programming" in several flavors (e.g. Visual Basic, Java, etc.), followed by "Programming Methods" (C++ or Java), "Data structures" (also C++ and Java), and "Internet programming" (ruby, python, javascript, php, etc..), and whatnot*.

*Do people still say whatnot?

Re:They don't teach languages (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40923231)

Northwestern University (The one in Evanston IL) has the specific policy that they will not teach you how to program in a language, only how to program.

So they teach intro courses in scheme and lisp, and then go into C++ and java only for the advanced classes.
Ya you basically learn two throw away languages, but then can learn two useful languages withount too much trouble.

Re:They don't teach languages (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about 2 years ago | (#40923625)

I still say "whatnot" and whatnot.

Re:They don't teach languages (3, Insightful)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 2 years ago | (#40922733)

Good luck on that. Programming has become very fashion conscious in the last decade or two. Programmers have also become more technician like in that they want high demand skills only that get them a short term job quickly.

Re:They don't teach languages (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40922835)

That's probably because many programming jobs are temporary. When the application is built, you're done. Bye.

Not the programmers fault (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40923329)

That's not the programer's fault and they must do that.

Let's face it, jobs have those ridiculous laundry lists of skills and if you want a job, you better have them. The job market has spoken.

I have never seen a job ad that just said BS CS or equivalent work experience, experience in developing [whatever product or industry they're in.] and left it at that - even though, any competent developer would be able to do the job. They just may need a weekend of intense study of a language if they don't know it already.

Re:They don't teach languages (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40922765)

Universities do not and should not be teaching programming languages.

What about say a biology major that wants to take Python 101 as an elective since the ability to program will be useful from time to time no matter what you're doing if a personal computer is involved. Being even a neophyte scripter gives you a significant advantage over people who aren't when it comes to computers as it is leverage that can be generally applied.

Re:They don't teach languages (1)

xstonedogx (814876) | about 2 years ago | (#40923147)

You can learn "neophyte scripter" level python (and most other languages) inside ten minutes on your own if you already have a language and basic programming course under your belt.

Re:They don't teach languages (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 2 years ago | (#40923277)

It's far better to teach someone, even a biologist, basic concepts and then point them towards a {$PROGRAMMING_LANGUAGE} tutorial or text than it is to teach them a particular language. I teach a Programming for Science Graduate Students (mostly neuroscience) class that does just that. I strongly encourage them to check out Python, but lots of them end up using MatLab.

Re:They don't teach languages (2)

Sentrion (964745) | about 2 years ago | (#40923387)

I am an electrical engineer. I learned C++ in a single course in college (my only CS course), but I later "taught" myself Java (or just enough Java to get the job done, and haven't needed it since). It is true that the fundamental skills in programming are understanding what instructions you are tying to give to the machine, avoiding typos, and debugging your code when it doesn't work. The basic premises don't change much, such as IF-THEN statements or calling out subroutines. A key skill is to define what you want the code to do before actually "coding", such as using a flow chart and/or psuedocode. In theory, you should be able to give your flow chart or psuedocode to any programmer of just about any language and they should be able to write the code for you - or vice versa if someone gives you psuedocode you should be able to code in the language you use. I've also used BASIC when I was a kid to make my own games and other environments should be easy to pick up, such as VBA or MatLab scripts. Machine language, like assembly code for a microcontroller, can be more of a challenge, but the basic skills still apply, except that now you have to manually control the stack and you have to pay close attention to the physical limitations of your processor. Main point: go ahead and take an intro- type of class, pay attention, and understand the difference between software design and programming syntax. A great poet should not care too much whether he is writing on paper or typing on Notepad, it's the poetry that counts. If the poet is "computer literate" then he might be able to write his poetry faster, and maybe have more opportunity to improve upon it with the text editing tools at his disposal. But I wouldn't consider him a great poet if he couldn't compose something great with a pen and notebook.

Re:They don't teach languages (3, Insightful)

jgotts (2785) | about 2 years ago | (#40922789)

It's almost like that except they teach data structures, object-oriented programming, and other idioms that are useful to both academics and industry. They don't exactly teach you "programming languages" except maybe when you're taking compilers, and in that case it's more than the language itself, it's how to design, gramatically specify, and "compile" one language into another language (I'm taking educated guesses, I haven't taken the course but I've studied gcc).

You can't teach anything with a hypothetical language. That would be far too abstract, and difficult to grade. You have to decide upon a language and you have to inherit its flaws, design compromises, and strengths. I disagree that texts use pseudocode. At least in my experience, they use some but not a whole lot.

When teaching a student grammar, you first teach their native language. English implements all sorts of biases, trade offs, and lacks features of other languages (gender, tone, irregular verbs, and many more). You have to direct your grammatical instruction in an incomplete manner or else things would be too abstract for the student, and when students learn new languages they have to learn new features of the language as well. Once you start looking into many, many languages it's pretty damned cool because you thought you knew how languages worked based upon your own but you begin to see how languages work in general. This whole aside, of course, applies to the formal languages we use for programming.

Re:They don't teach languages (4, Insightful)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 2 years ago | (#40922887)

This is what I don't think the "you don't need a degree" crowd gets. University instruction is teaching how to be a good programmer, not how to write code. If you think college was worthless because you didn't learn the DirectX API, consider that your university experience should have been about everything that happens before the first character of code is typed; and then some.

Re:They don't teach languages (2)

AwesomeMcgee (2437070) | about 2 years ago | (#40923029)

I agree that the "you don't need a degree" crowd doesn't understand often times the foundations or theory. However, the "you need a degree" crowd goes around saying things like:

University instruction is teaching how to be a good programmer

When many of us have met countless folks with CS degrees who are horrible programmers. And don't misconstrue what I'm saying here, the foundations and theory are extremely important, I am not speaking of them with any form of sarcasm. Those who do have great comprehension of theory are all the best developers I've known.

Re:They don't teach languages (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40923215)

GP should have said, "Good university instruction teaches you to be a good programmer." You don't need a degree to be a good programmer, but it's harder to learn the theory on your own than it is to pick up a language on your own. On the other hand, if you have a degree and you're not a good programmer, then either your university instruction was bad or you were a bad student.

Re:They don't teach languages (1)

PRMan (959735) | about 2 years ago | (#40923305)

Especially ADVANCED degrees. When I was hiring, we never found a Masters or PhD that was worth hiring. Too much theory, no real world. One person with a masters didn't know what the Start button on Windows 95 did. Another couldn't add one column to a csv in 8 hours!

Re:They don't teach languages (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40923465)

Exactly. You can be a shitty programmer no matter what kind of degree you have (whether it's the university's or the student's fault)...but nothing you've said is evidence that a programmer is MORE likely to be shitty if they have an advanced degree.

Re:They don't teach languages (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40923603)

How do you edit a csv anyway? By default they seem to open in excel, but it completely butchered it.
Anyway, I'm not on the you need or you don't need a degree sides.
I'm on the I want a degree side.
I also have to wonder where you were finding your masters and PhD graduates.
Especially the PhDs I would expect to have more real world experience.
Obviously I can only speak from my own experience, but in my research I work together with people from several different companies and universities to do my research. I think that counts somewhat as real world. Obviously it's not the same as real job experience, since the requirements aren't as strict, but everyone has to build up experience at some point, and the university is not really that place.

Actually now that I think about it, I'm not surprised at all. I often wonder how some students made it through their masters degree, and the same for some PhD students. I feel sorry for their professors. But I can't believe all of the ones you met were retarded.
Maybe your place of work is not desirable for capable people?

Re:They don't teach languages (2)

garett_spencley (193892) | about 2 years ago | (#40923629)

True story: a friend of mine was pursuing his PHD in CS. During that time he was a TA in an object oriented programming course. He was responsible for grading lab-work (done in Java) and was telling me about various assignments he would have to mark. He told me that many of these students would find rather creative ways to complete the assignment without using any object oriented principles what-so-ever. What he was handed was akin to scripts inside a single main() method.

The punchline is: when he graded those assignments a zero, the students would complain to the professor who would explain to my friend that those assignments were deserving of 10/10 because they compiled and ran.

A university-level course that is supposed to be teaching object oriented principles, in this particular case, had as it's only criteria that the software compiles and runs. It does not matter if the student walks out of the class even knowing what object oriented programming is.

I think THAT kind of thing is what really fuels the "you don't need a degree" crowd. It's an example of how Universities are giving away degrees, and when everyone has a degree they cease to be valuable commodities.

Re:They don't teach languages (1)

kiddygrinder (605598) | about 2 years ago | (#40923085)

Uni instruction teaches you shit all about being a good programmer in my experience. data structures don't take 3 years to learn. we've got a guy who's been doing part time uni working on some of our systems, last week he learned how to use constructors. It's August. Note that i said *use* not *write*. Not to mention when he comes back with some bullshit a lecturer seems to have just made up and we have to tell him to just forget it after the exam.

Re:They don't teach languages (1)

tnk1 (899206) | about 2 years ago | (#40923229)

I don't even know if that is true. Of course, I took CS courses something like 15 years ago, but back then you didn't really even learn to program, you mostly learned what went into making computers work. Good coding practices or even solving issues with coding itself wasn't even really the point. You learned how computers might solve the problems, and you might then translate the solution into code using the coding language of the professor's choice.

In 4 years, I ended up having to use Pascal, C, Java and Tcl. In no way was I taught much about being a good coder in terms of maintainable code. Perhaps the new-fangled Computer Engineering or updated CS programs do that now, but I can tell you that I certainly didn't learn to code in class, I was already expected to know how to do it. If you didn't know a language, you were expected to take the remedial classes which gave a student almost no credits.

Re:They don't teach languages (1)

swilly (24960) | about 2 years ago | (#40923717)

I completely agree with this. When I went to school we were introduced a topic and a language to demonstrate the topic. The purpose of the course was to teach programming concepts, not languages. I can still remember some of my course titles (Structured Programming with Pascal, Data Structures with Pascal, Systems Programming with C, Object Orientation with C++, GUI Programming with Delphi, AI Programming with Lisp and Prolog, and so on). The languages weren't always ideal for the course (Smalltalk would have been better than C++ for introducing Object Orientation) but for the most part this approach worked well.

There were also 1 credit hour 200 level courses for specific languages (I remember Java, Perl, COBOL, and FORTRAN) but CS students could only get credit for a few of these (though CIS students were expected to take a lot more).

There's no easy way to fame and fortune (1)

IcyHando'Death (239387) | about 2 years ago | (#40922549)

Don't count on it. Most people are like me in selecting a course. They want relevant skills. If a course that might otherwise tickle my fancy requires learning B+- or Anchovy_Paste.net I'll keep looking. There's a lot of selection out there now and I have little time for picking up languages on speculation.

To be honest... (1)

marczoid (2703841) | about 2 years ago | (#40922573)

...most people that I know are still using traditional languages, so the ones that quickly come will probably go quickly as well. Compare it to Pink Floyd and Pitt-bull.

bullcocky (2)

afidel (530433) | about 2 years ago | (#40922577)

Yeah, like nobody ever learned LISP, PASCAL, BASIC, Eiffel, Erlang, Haskell, LOGO, or Scheme before there was an internet... Plenty of languages have flourished in academia without having broad industry support. Some exist primarily as teaching languages, others are most appropriate for domains where there's not a lot of practical economic application yet.

The Resurgence of Lisp Is At Hand (4, Funny)

Patrick May (305709) | about 2 years ago | (#40922581)

We already have Lisp. All other languages are unnecessary.

Re:The Resurgence of Lisp Is At Hand (0)

SpeedBump0619 (324581) | about 2 years ago | (#40922849)

We already have <TuringCompleteLanguage>. All other languages are unnecessary.

Re:The Resurgence of Lisp Is At Hand (3, Funny)

AwesomeMcgee (2437070) | about 2 years ago | (#40923049)

But does it have macros?

Re:The Resurgence of Lisp Is At Hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40923337)

No, but it can emulate them.

Re:The Resurgence of Lisp Is At Hand (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40923181)

Not really: http://xkcd.com/224/

Not for some people (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40922583)

"And finally, Bos, I just want to say thank you for Youkilis." –joking at a fundraiser in Boston about the Red Sox trading their beloved slugger Kevin Youkilis to Chicago White Sox, Obama's hometown team. The line drew boos from the audience. (June 25, 2012)

"When I meet with world leaders, what's striking -- whether it's in Europe or here in Asia..." -mistakenly referring to Hawaii as Asia while holding a press conference outside Honolulu, Nov. 16, 2011

"We're the country that built the Intercontinental Railroad." —Cincinnati, OH, Sept. 22, 2011

"We're not trying to push financial reform because we begrudge success that's fairly earned. I mean, I do think at a certain point you've made enough money. But, you know, part of the American way is, you know, you can just keep on making it if you're providing a good product or providing good service. We don’t want people to stop, ah, fulfilling the core responsibilities of the financial system to help grow our economy." —on Wall Street reform, Quincy, Ill., April 29, 2010

"One such translator was an American of Haitian descent, representative of the extraordinary work that our men and women in uniform do all around the world -- Navy Corpse-Man Christian Brossard." –mispronouncing "Corpsman" (the "ps" is silent) during a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, Washington, D.C., Feb. 5, 2010 (The Corpsman's name is also Christopher, not Christian)

"The Middle East is obviously an issue that has plagued the region for centuries." --Tampa, Fla., Jan. 28, 2010

"UPS and FedEx are doing just fine, right? It's the Post Office that's always having problems." –attempting to make the case for government-run healthcare, while simultaneously undercutting his own argument, Portsmouth, N.H., Aug. 11, 2009

"The Cambridge police acted stupidly." —commenting on a white police officer's arrest of black scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. at his home in Cambridge, Mass., at a news conference, July 22, 2009

"The reforms we seek would bring greater competition, choice, savings and inefficiencies to our health care system." --in remarks after a health care roundtable with physicians, nurses and health care providers, Washington, D.C., July 20, 2009

"It was also interesting to see that political interaction in Europe is not that different from the United States Senate. There's a lot of -- I don't know what the term is in Austrian, wheeling and dealing." --confusing German for "Austrian," a language which does not exist, Strasbourg, France, April 6, 2009

"No, no. I have been practicing...I bowled a 129. It's like -- it was like Special Olympics, or something." --making an off-hand joke during an appearance on "The Tonight Show", March 19, 2009 (Obama later called the head of the Special Olympics to apologize)

"I didn't want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about doing any seances." --after saying he had spoken with all the living presidents as he prepared to take office, Washington, D.C., Nov. 7, 2008 (Obama later called Nancy Reagan to apologize)

"I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody." -- defending his tax plan to Joe the Plumber, who argued that Obama's policy hurts small-business owners like himself, Toledo, Ohio, Oct. 12, 2008

"What I was suggesting -- you're absolutely right that John McCain has not talked about my Muslim faith..." --in an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, who jumped in to correct Obama by saying "your Christian faith," which Obama quickly clarified (Watch video clip)

"I'm here with the Girardo family here in St. Louis." --speaking via satellite to the Democratic National Convention, while in Kansas City, Missouri, Aug. 25, 2008

"Let me introduce to you the next President -- the next Vice President of the United States of America, Joe Biden." --slipping up while introducing Joe Biden at their first joint campaign rally, Springfield, Illinois, Aug. 23, 2008

"Just this past week, we passed out of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee -- which is my committee -- a bill to call for divestment from Iran as way of ratcheting up the pressure to ensure that they don't obtain a nuclear weapon." --referring to a committee he is not on, Sderot, Israel, July 23, 2008

"Let me be absolutely clear. Israel is a strong friend of Israel's. It will be a strong friend of Israel's under a McCain...administration. It will be a strong friend of Israel's under an Obama administration. So that policy is not going to change." --Amman, Jordan, July 22, 2008

"How's it going, Sunshine?" --campaigning in Sunrise, Florida

"On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes -- and I see many of them in the audience here today -- our sense of patriotism is particularly strong."

"Hold on one second, sweetie, we're going to do -- we'll do a press avail." --to a female reporter for ABC's Detroit affiliate who asked about his plan to help American autoworkers (Watch video clip)

"I've now been in 57 states -- I think one left to go." --at a campaign event in Beaverton, Oregon (Watch video clip)

"Why can't I just eat my waffle?" --after being asked a foreign policy question by a reporter while visiting a diner in Pennsylvania

"It's not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations." --explaining his troubles winning over some working-class voters

"The point I was making was not that Grandmother harbors any racial animosity. She doesn't. But she is a typical white person, who, if she sees somebody on the street that she doesn't know, you know, there's a reaction that's been bred in our experiences that don't go away and that sometimes come out in the wrong way, and that's just the nature of race in our society."

"Come on! I just answered, like, eight questions." --exasperated by reporters after a news conference

"You're likeable enough, Hillary." --during a Democratic debate

"In case you missed it, this week, there was a tragedy in Kansas. Ten thousand people died -- an entire town destroyed." --on a Kansas tornado that killed 12 people

Re:Not for some people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40923553)

Sea kelp.

Tail wagging dog? (1)

Grindalf (1089511) | about 2 years ago | (#40922593)

Adoption and standardisation of most computing was traditionally steered by the military and space research, not academics. The academics “followed the money” and worked on government funded programmes which steered the research to a “needed point.”

For Fuck's Sake (2, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 years ago | (#40922595)

For fucks sake, stop with the thinly veiled advertising. We're talking about a huge penetration of languages like C, C++, Java and Perl and the like which are still going to require people capable of coding in them. This fucking online Khan Academy crap isn't going to change that, and I'll wager you dollars to donuts the whole fucking thing will collapse under the weight of insanely over-hyped promises and gimmicks.

Re:For &#$@'s Sake (3, Insightful)

Bigby (659157) | about 2 years ago | (#40922859)

Non programmers need to understand that the language isn't the problem. Certain autistic persons have issues formulating sentences to communicate properly to those that are well versed in communication. It doesn't matter if they learn 10 languages, if they can't convey their thoughts in one language, they aren't going to do it in another language.

Likewise, with programming, if you can't speak the language of logic, then you can't program. If you can't have the forethought to see holes in logic, then you can't program. Sure, you can write up some stuff that works. But it still isn't coherent in the grand scheme of things. The government, Universities, and corporate management seem to be stuck thinking that we just need more people that know certain programming languages.

When will they learn that programming is a shift in the thought process that a large segment of our population just can't make? Or they won't make unless we start teaching people to be logical and non-ambiguous in life...

Re:For &#$@'s Sake (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#40923179)

When will they learn that programming is a shi&t in the tho#ght process that a large segment o& o#r pop#lation j#st can't ma@e??

Most people can realize what can be automated. That's why most people don't like repetitive tasks, that they know could be automated. That's how a lot of so called progress has happened.

but you're forgetting that most things don't need to be perfect to work. if an automatic sorting machine just does an OK job that might be enough, considering that a human might not be able to do any better judging if some apple is red enough or not. That's a problem case where there is no definite logic on what's passable. Much like there's no definite logic on which programming language is passable for wide use.

but this article is total crap and a khan academy advert. khan academy isn't going to change the landscape anymore than any random web page is going to change the landscape for obscure or new programming languages. if it has some merit and is sexy enough then people will use it, but this article somehow assumes that people would like to be force fed a niche programming language down their throats on an online site - if they want that they can go learn snobol today.

Re:For &#$@'s Sake (1)

Belial6 (794905) | about 2 years ago | (#40923655)

Khan Academy is great, but I agree with you that it isn't going to change the landscape of programming languages. Online language courses are everywhere, and have been for as long as the internet has been available to the masses.

I really hope so... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40922605)

We need more high level languages.

Not the way it was (2)

pubwvj (1045960) | about 2 years ago | (#40922631)

"getting traction for a new programming language was next to impossible. First, one needed a textbook publishing deal. Then, one needed a critical mass of CS profs across the country to convince their departments that your language was worth teaching at the university level. And after that, one still needed a critical mass of students to agree it was worth spending their time and tuition to learn your language."

That is not the way it was. I've been programming professionally since the 1970's. We didn't go to school to learn a programming language. If you took classes it was to learn techniques and concepts. Picking up a new language is a trivial thing. Taking a course on a language does not make you a programmer. Language is merely a way to communicate with the computer. New languages and development environments come and go. Good programmers persist and pickup new languages easily to do the tasks needed.

Betteridge's Law (3, Insightful)

IcyHando'Death (239387) | about 2 years ago | (#40922723)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betteridge's_Law_of_Headlines [wikipedia.org]

So, no.

Nobody will learn a new language unless it offers a big advantage over the existing popular languages. In the last 2 decades, that has meant having a particularly useful library or framework (such as CGI for Perl or Rails for Ruby). Why else would anybody invest the time. New languages are a dime a dozen (actually, that's too generous).

Re:Betteridge's Law (2)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#40922833)

I'd add new paradigms as a third reason. OO seems to have driven a lot of language choice. I'm betting functional is going to make a splash in the future; after all you can't spell functional without "fun". Either that or massive parallelism is going to force Erlang down our throats like it or not.

Re:Betteridge's Law (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 2 years ago | (#40923367)

you can't spell functional without "fun".

Have you programmed in a functional language? The things are like magic. When you get something working it's amazing, but getting there is a test of your worthiness.

Re:Betteridge's Law (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#40923423)

If a new paradigm doesn't hurt, you're doing it wrong. I admit that years ago when I was just starting ruby my code looked a whole hell of a lot like perl, because I was doin it wrong. I'm old enough to remember the annoying switch to, and then mostly away from, OO.

I think the opposite is true (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 2 years ago | (#40923187)

Nobody will learn a new language unless it offers a big advantage over the existing popular languages.

I don't think that's true. It just has to be different enough.

The thing is after you use a language for a while you know it's flaws. It's at that juncture that some other language can come along and capture your fancy, all it has to do is address those flaws you find most annoying in a saner way.

The frameworks are kind of a precondition these days though, if you try to work a string over and encounter pain then you are usually gone.

Re:Betteridge's Law (1)

ThorGod (456163) | about 2 years ago | (#40923497)

Come on dude, this gets posted to EVERY SINGLE "ask slashdot" THREAD.

It's just redundant at this point. Then I see you added some verbs to make your post a little more than a link to wikipedia...doesn't cut it.

No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40922725)

Betteridge [wikipedia.org]

Students or bots? (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 2 years ago | (#40922761)

With Facebook seemingly half-populated by bots, are these numbers thrown around by these "online universities" really a reliable source? And how many "certified" IT people have you dealt with who were totally clueless?

Re:Students or bots? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40923745)

Too many of them...

It's the tools, stupid (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | about 2 years ago | (#40922793)

Coming up with a new language and teaching it to people is a fun exercise, but unless there's proper tools (IDE, build system, support libraries, binding generators, etc.) then forget it.

Professional programmers don't bother with toy languages unless they're just screwing around.

Universities don't lead, they follow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40922823)

... and that won't change just because they move online. Even setting aside the fact that the focus is usually on general principles (independent of the specific language used), the choice of language will always be dictated by what they feel will be useful to their students. In other words, they won't pick a new language and hope to drive adoption by building courses around it, they'll pick an established and popular language. (For example, Udacity picked Python; hardly a controversial choice.) The only thing that might change with the move online is the tempo of change: universities won't lag the rest of the world by so much. But the main drivers of language adoption will always be elsewhere.

Language agnostic (2)

fermion (181285) | about 2 years ago | (#40922889)

A person who learned to program a computer should be able to use, after a time, any language that is currently in the top 5, that is C, Objective C, Java, C++, C#. All of these share a common underlying philosophy and basic technique. C is by far the simplest fo these, but also the most basic. Of course most of the time the language is not the thing. Rather the API is where th heavy flitting is done and in fact over the past 10 years of so has become a barrier to entry. One has to know how use .net., or the interfaces for iOS or android. 30 years ago the APIs were not this arbitrarily complex, but also we were not doing threading of complex UI. Specifically when using an API one has to define the solution to the problem in terms of the API, not the language. These language account for perhaps 2/3 of the computer applications.

The second tier stuff if most useful for RAD. That is visual basic, python, perl, PHP, Ruby. These are mostly scripting languages, and require a slightly different approach. The solution is defined in terms of the capability of the language and the available scripts. This is particularly true with Ruby. These are languages that meet specific requirements for specific purposes. For instance PHP and Ruby are what uses to write a website. Python is quite popular for home grown science applications.

Which is to say that anyone trying to promote a language because it is what they know rather than because it is what is used to solve a particular problem is like a person trying to get their boss to buy a lather for the server room because they really need a lathe for home projects. I would not try to script a website with C. I would not try write a data analysis program in assembly. The computers are simply too fast and we have had 40 years of development of tool that means we do not need to spend a quarter and a million dollars rewriting a GUI. This has always been true. In the 80's we used fortran for number crunching because that was the only language supported by IMSL. We used C for everything else because it ran on everything else.

So online learning is only going to teach students how to use useless tools. Yes I would like to teach people how to use Forth, but what is the point? We can teach students how use Shakespeare, and it would teach them techniques they need to know and would be very motivating for certain students, but where would they use it? Once a student is proficient at programming, and understand the basic concept, time needs to be spent on learning how to to efficiently acquire API knowledge

C is not the simplest (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 2 years ago | (#40923211)

C is by far the simplest fo these, but also the most basic

Any language that you have to manage memory in is inherently less simple to learn ( to a starting point) than a language where you do not have to think about memory management.

Re:C is not the simplest (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40923403)

You seem to have forgotten how hard OOP is to learn.

Re:C is not the simplest (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40923407)

he didn't say simple to learn

What a load of ignorant bullcrap (5, Insightful)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | about 2 years ago | (#40922899)

Some people like to talk about computing without knowing its history. How did this made it to the /. front-page news?

"Back in the day, getting traction for a new programming language was next to impossible. First, one needed a textbook publishing deal.

Yeah, because COBOL and FORTRAN only took off after a mass of publishers got on it. Riiiiight.

Then, one needed a critical mass of CS profs across the country to convince their departments that your language was worth teaching at the university level.

Counter example: COBOL, FORTRAN, C, Java (the later two only took off after the industry was using them a plenty.)

And after that, one still needed a critical mass of students to agree it was worth spending their time and tuition to learn your language. Which probably meant that one needed a critical mass of corporations to agree they wanted their employees to use your language.

Where the hell do you get this stuff. Are you still in school or something?

It was a tall order that took years if one was lucky, and only some languages — FORTRAN, PL/I, C, Java, and Python come to mind — managed to succeed on all of these fronts.

FORTRAN took off because it was the best thing at the time for programming (much better than COBOL.) Java took off without the need of publishers or academia. It was simply taken by the industry. Python hasn't taken off (I love the language, but its usage is nowhere near Java or C#.)

But that was then, this is now.

You don't know what was "then". I doubt you know what it is "now".

Whip up some online materials, and you can kiss your textbook publishing worries goodbye.

What does this even mean?

Manage to convince just one of the new Super Profs at Udacity or Coursera to teach your programming language, and they can reach 160,000 students with just one free, not-for-credit course.

Yeah, because it will be as easy as it was before, right, right, right? Let's build a pyramid of hypotheticals!!!!

And even if the elite Profs turn up their nose at your creation, upstarts like Khan Academy or Code Academy can also deliver staggering numbers of students in a short time.

Yeah, because if up-start elite professors at Udacity or Coursera turn up their noses at your pet project, Khan will surely pick it up. Khan!!!!!!!!

In theory, widespread adoption of a new programming language could be achieved in weeks instead of years or decades, piquing employers' interest.

Because business rely in internet popularity and nothing when investing in effective technology.

So, could we be on the verge of a programming language renaissance?

I didn't know where were in a programming language dark age.

Or will the status quo somehow manage to triumph?"

Somehow this reminds me of Dora the Explorer when she stares at the audience waiting for an answer.

Re:What a load of ignorant bullcrap (1)

djchristensen (472087) | about 2 years ago | (#40923047)

Somehow this reminds me of Dora the Explorer when she stares at the audience waiting for an answer.

I wish I had moderator points right now just for this comment. +2 hilarious.

+1 insightful for the post as a whole.

Re:What a load of ignorant bullcrap (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 2 years ago | (#40923415)

Brilliant. Now I remember why I still read the comments.

I Hope Not (2)

Githaron (2462596) | about 2 years ago | (#40922903)

Unless the language adds something revolutionary or is very domain specific, we don't really need anymore widely used programming languages. What we do need is more libraries, frameworks, and APIs for existing languages. Preferably, they would be open source or at least have open specifications so that an open source version can be made. Also, not all problem domains warrant their own language.

Brainfuck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40922921)

As it is, my college classes start out over-crowded and end with about half dropping out (and a few failing because they are too stupid to drop or withdraw).

I'd *love* to take a programming course taught with brainfuck. Pretty sure there'd be at most 3 of us with passing grades.

Lot's of IT work should not be at university level (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#40922961)

Lot's of IT work should not be at university level.

First off help-desk / desktop / system admin is not CS

2rd lot of IT stuff needs learning / training at the tech school level / trades level.

3rd 4 years pure class room is way to long to get in to the field and comes with the full load of fluff and filler that comes with a university schooling.

4rd IT has alot of on going education that does not if the university time table.

5rd Tech schools seem to try to jam the university framing of degrees in to there plans so in some lights they are seen as a joke and some times credits don't transfer as the time tables are not the same.

A flourishing of new languages could be worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40923061)

There are a lot of terms here, like inertia and status quo, that miss the real point:

You're making an assumption that the widespread adoption of new programming languages would be better, not worse, for the community. I'm not sure there's data that backs this claim. The high barrier to new languages has created larger pools of people and systems talking to one another; there are advantages to this. There is, essentially, a cost to the system for every new language that hits the ecosystem. There is some optimal number of languages, and there's little reason to expect that number is significantly higher than what we have now. I can see a benefit if online learning programs were to reduce the cost of leaning one of the existing languages. I can also see a benefit if such programs were to increase the number of people programming in those languages. However, the more languages there are, the more difficult it will be to find people who have mastered them.

If I'm an employer, and I'm trying to decide what language my employees should code in, I need that language to be one that both meets my needs and one that is highly adopted, such that, should I need to hire someone, an add online will bring plenty of applicants. However, if the existing body of programmers becomes fragmented among a greater number of languages, it will become harder to find someone who has mastered the one or two languages my company uses.

Where
      PP = Total Population of Programmers,
      ML = Number of Major Programming Languages, and
      COB = Current Overall Benefit,
if PP/ML=COB, you'll need to demonstrate that PP/2(ML) != COB/2 before anyone gets excited about the prospects of the new renaissance.

Skills vs Language (1)

wiegeabo (2575169) | about 2 years ago | (#40923077)

Perhaps it would be better if universities focused on programming skill and critical thinking rather than having to learn any particular language.

Maybe instead of learning, say, a C variant through all the years of college (which is really good to teach some things, and really bad to teach others), it would be better to use a language that, while not necessarily some type of industry standard, is actually a good tool for teaching a variety of programming techniques and critical thought. What good is it to learn to use a language if you can't program worth a damn?

Back in college, half my intro to programming class bombed out because it focused on how to use C++ instead of how to actually think about programming. Only those of us who had been programming in C++ beforehand were able to get a decent grade.

Shouldn't learning how to program be relatively language agnostic? Sure, you won't get to the fancy powerful tricks of a particular language in the classroom. But if you know how to program, not only should you be able to learn any language (assuming appropriate features and training materials), but you'll be able to pick up all that fancy stuff either on your own, in advanced language specific classes, or from work.

How are we not already in the renaissance? (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 2 years ago | (#40923123)

Good grief man! One of the more popular languages around these days is Objective-C! Would you have thought THAT possible ten years ago?

Look at StackOverflow, brimming with questions about Ruby or Python or PHP or Scala.

Look at alternative databases in wide use today that do not use SQL.

Your renaissance has already arrived, any language that has some good practical use does not need a course to gain adoption, just a tag in StackOverflow and a handful of fervent believers to evangelize the use of it.

On a side note, it's depressing the number of dour replies you got right out of the gate. There was a time where futurists were a healthy part of Slashdot, now we are scored and ridiculed. It hardly matters though since we are generally right in the end, so keep the spirits up.

Impossible to introduce a new procedural language (2)

rmkeene (1701114) | about 2 years ago | (#40923161)

No. Programming languages need two things to become mainstream. First they need a very extensive library of support such as windowing, network, and about 50 other topics. Second they need a compelling reason to use the language itself. The compelling reason could be that the language is so nifty or elegant that it is worth the effort. In procedural languages it is hard to imagine anything better than what we have. In non-procedural languages there may be some new ideas yet to be thought of. Another compelling reason for a new language is marketing suits. Some company has a very cool new product and in order to lock you in they invent a new language to program it. Laaaaaaaaame. Only Microsoft would be stupid enough to try that again (C# was a case in point where they still had the muscle to pull it off.) Google could do it for a special search language but are not that silly.

Quickly learned and quickly forgotten (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | about 2 years ago | (#40923191)

Sure, online sources mean a lot of people will get to write "Hello World\n" in many different languages - but so what?

Most of those languages will wither on the vine as there is no widespread support for them, no major pieces of software written in them and the skills base is so dilute (10 million "users" spread across 7 billion people? sounds like homeopathic programming - even if they are all connected on the internet) that it's in no employers interests to invest in it.

The languages that are successful are the ones operating systems are written in. The ones that databases are implemented in - that software with a lifespan measured in decades use. Those are the foundation of the IT industry and the languages that will provide most of the employment to developers.

However, so far as novelty goes, the new languages that will be successful are the ones the will permit new ways of working, provide new features and/or solve the new problems that we will encounter.

So learn your trendy new languages - the ones that some professor somewhere gets a nice little kickback from recommending some obscure learning material for. But you're almost certainly wasting your time if you expect to earn a living from it in the years after you graduate.

New Languages aren't better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40923255)

One Word: Esperanto

Education is irrelevant for language adoption (1)

mbkennel (97636) | about 2 years ago | (#40923323)

People learn French because people speak French in France.

For programming langauges it's the same.

Programming languages become popular when they come attached to something else that is already popular---and for reasons independent of programming languages. In a nutshell, connecting to operating system facilities which are connected to popular hardware.

If Apple iPhones were programmed in object COBOL, the language would be popular. And after all, few people used Objective-C outside NeXTSTEP/MacOS/iOS. If Apple hadn't bought NeXT for its next operating system, Objective-C would be nearly dead.

Yes, and it's going to be great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40923343)

For those of us who embrace change, we see this coming flood of new stuff and we say, WooHoo!

Out with the same-old, same-old musty stuff that have been stuck in committees for the past 30 years.

In with the new stuff that smart folks from all over the world are coming up with on a daily or even hourly basis, that deal with today's world not the bad old days, so the rest of us can be more productive and fulfilled.

Why do we need a renaissance? (1)

NorbrookC (674063) | about 2 years ago | (#40923499)

Seriously. Considering the amount of bitching, griping, moaning and whining I've seen about businesses failing to move to new operating systems and carrying around large amounts of legacy code, it doesn't appear that there's a pent-up demand for brand-new languages. The OP seems to be operating under the assumption that "if you build it, they will come" when it comes to programming languages, but the real world seems to be of a different opinion.

"Or will the status quo somehow triumph?" (1)

John Hasler (414242) | about 2 years ago | (#40923607)

We can only hope. Aren't we already getting a language a week, some FORTRAN with capricious syntax changes, others FORTRAN with horrific kluges grafted on? (actually, all with capricious syntax changes).

Back in what day? wtf are you talking about (1)

WombleGoneBad (2591287) | about 2 years ago | (#40923773)

Not one of the programming languages listed were a success because 'it was taught to students'. Its arse about face, they were taught because they were successful. Who the hell wants more languages anyway? renaisance? wtf are you talking about? We need better, faster, easier ways to get the job done. Not spewing out more languages for the sake of it. Also if you *did* have some magic new language, why would you want to force feed a bunch of inexperienced students with it? If you come up with a *genuine* significant improvement, be it a language, a technique, a library or whatever real programmers will pick it up and it will soar on its own wings. Look at JSON for a very recent and clear example of this. depsite the MASSIVE investment in XML by big industry and acedemia, some single guy posts a webpage and says 'hey heres an alternative format that works well with javascript' and now half the world is using it.

What about Awk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40923847)

I learned Awk from some RedHat Unleashed (4.0?) after I graduated. Thanks to that segue, I never really needed to learn perl. I never used Awk during the time I went to college, but I've used it numerous times. On the other hand, I used Standard ML quite a bit in college, but never since.

I've used TCL for modeling neural networks, ported Matlab code to C for improved performance, written code in Ada, developed ASP using Windows-NT emacs. But I don't know lisp.

I'm not sure what my point is, other than that, I think it's really odd how people adopt programming languages, and not clear why a change in University structure would impact that oddness in an meaningful way.

What would help? (1)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | about 2 years ago | (#40923857)

I don't know. Maybe if there were some languages that broke new ground in terms of data abstractions, control flow, basic concepts of how to program, etc., there might be some reason to adopt them.

The last twenty years of language design has simply been a rehash of the twenty years before that. There hasn't been anything interesting out of the programming language world since CLOS and its multi-methods and MOP back in the early eighties. Maybe Erlang's process model from the mid-eighties. And the academic programming language community hasn't done much either, burrowing ever deeper into its own type-theoretic navel rather than exploring pragmatics.

Someone show me a language that beats APL in array processing, C in procedural programming, or Smalltalk or CLOS in OO programming - that could impress me and maybe make me want to learn a new language. Otherwise, I'll go ahead and learn the syntax and libraries, because that's about all that's different about your latest brain fart.

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