An interesting view on social groups and their problems

tim Rowledge tim at
Tue Nov 6 04:52:27 UTC 2007

On 5-Nov-07, at 8:07 PM, Colin Putney wrote:
> 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.

Mmm, I'm not sure I could agree with that really. I'd like somewhat  
wider adoption if only so as to provide a wider pool of interesting  
employment possibilities, at least for the next 10 years or so. It  
would be nice to retire without ever having to stoop to a lesser  
> 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.

Well put. One problem we have at the moment is being effective. There  
are enough versions of Smalltalk to be quite awkwardly divisive;  
consider the diversionary effort that seems to be going into buying  
out Dolphin. Seems a crazy thing to do to me, but then I never really  
considered it a serious system. And yes, that's probably because I  
never got paid to use it. What other metric would one use?
Another big problem is available time. Happily a lot of us are  
gainfully employed right now (which amazes me considering the   
dreadful state of the US economy, but there you are) and that means -  
at least in my case - very little time to spend on community projects.  
Unsurprisingly, the biggest advances in the vm tend to relate to times  
when one or more of the people with experience in the area are  
employed to work on it explicitly, for one example.

Another problem is 'lost' time, as when someone with a lot of free  
time to flood the community with questions or opinions or  
argumentation 'bombs' us with demands that we have to change to using  
visual basic syntax, or change to functional programming or whatever.  
It's a problem well covered in Shirky's article, basically adding up  
to the old saw 'the squeaky wheel gets the oil'.

tim Rowledge; tim at;
When you earnestly believe you can compensate for a lack of skill by  
doubling your efforts, there's no end to what you can't do

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