An interesting view on social groups and their problems

Colin Putney cputney at
Tue Nov 6 04:07:09 UTC 2007

On 5-Nov-07, at 2:21 PM, Chris Cunnington wrote:

> Smalltalkers talk about wider adoption, but they don't really want  
> it. They
> like community to be as small and cozy as an English smoking lounge.  
> I was
> talking to a developer at Smalltalk Solutions of a large product,  
> and he
> said he was afraid of too many people using their product, because  
> then
> people would blame their own deficiencies on the product.

I occasionally get into arguments with Smalltalk advocates for exactly  
this reason. I don't want wider adoption of Smalltalk; I think the  
community is starting to get too big as it is. There are two things I  
do want, though.

One is for Smalltalk to be "respectable." If you've got a problem that  
would be nicely solved in Smalltalk, it's a real shame to have to use  
some other language because the client or manager succumbs to FUD.

The other is for the community to be effective. Using Smalltalk is  
only viable if libraries get written and maintained, tough questions  
can be answered, VM technology progresses, new platforms are supported  
as they emerge, and new language concepts can be integrated. As long  
as the community is big enough to let Smalltalkers remain  
Smalltalkers, it's big enough.

To some degree, the community needs to be a certain size to  
effectively support its members, but I think that minimum size is  
shrinking. The "dark ages" for Smalltalk were that period when it had  
already become clear that Smalltalk would not become the standard  
language for enterprise development, but before the Internet had  
reached the level of social sophistication that we see now.

Back to the original article. Shirky talks about the need for  
structure to all the group to protect it's principles against both  
newcomers and it's own group tendencies. I think the Smalltalk  
community would benefit by focussing on mutual support rather than  


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