Don’t forget to fly

I saw this comic a while ago and it occurred to me during today’s HUG.

I think the analogy is obvious, but I’m going to spell it out anyway because I feel the need to rant about it. (As a side note, I know I’ve occasionally been guilty of what I’m ranting about. Hopefully I’ve stopped…)

You like functional programming. That’s great. You write C#/Java/C++/Brainfuck/PL-SQL/Malbolge during your day job. That’s a shame, but oh well. You and everyone else. I bet you really wish you could use folds/lazy evaluation/lightweight threading/COMEFROM statements in your work code. Great. Me too.

There’s a lot of neat stuff in functional programming (and in the better OO languages. And in logic programming. And in a wide variety of other things). So, use it. Go wild. Write code.

DON’T waste time posting endless blog posts about how closures are awesome and wonderful and here’s an example of how they might work in Java. “Here’s a nice bit of code I wrote” is one thing. “Here’s how to implement a for loop. Isn’t it awesome!!!”? Not so much. If you’re interested in something, use it. Don’t waste time thinking about how to shoehorn its features into a language you know far too well.

You can fly. Stop thinking about how great it would be to do so and go out and do it.

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3 thoughts on “Don’t forget to fly

  1. ephemient

    Flawed analoogy: both of those birds are already capable of flight. But the target audience for “FP is awesome!” posts is not the FP community, it is those who are outside of it.

  2. David R. MacIver

    Curious. I had a paragraph addressing exactly that point, but took it out because I didn’t think it was relevant. :-)

    Short version: Yes, that’s true. But the posts are uniformly among the least convincing pieces of writing I’ve seen. I sure as hell wouldn’t have started functional programming if the motivation I got was “Look. For loops! Oooooh!”.

    (There are a few exceptions to this rule, but not many – most of the people who actually know enough to write good FP advocacy pieces know enough to not do it in Java.)

    More importantly, the people writing these posts are in the FP community. So why are they spending all their time thinking about FP in terms of how they could use it in Malbolge?

  3. olsner

    Seems to me that most of the “FP is awesome!” posts from people in the FP community are *actually read* mostly by other people already in the community, rather than by a lot of outsiders. Simply because FP people go around reading a lot of FP blogs, while non-FP people don’t usually do that ;-)

    While many of these FP posts are written as if to convert people to FP, I think the actual effect is more of “Check this out! If someone could explain this über-cool FP feature to the masses, everyone would go FP!”

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