An interesting view on social groups and their problems

Laurence Rozier laurence.rozier at
Sat Nov 10 16:50:51 UTC 2007

On Nov 10, 2007 5:57 AM, Jason Johnson <jason.johnson.081 at> wrote:

> Well, for me personally, do I want Smalltalk to be mainstream like C#
> and Java?  Never.  Becoming mainstream currently means getting flooded
> by a bunch of people who should not be programming.

Ever since 1981, I've subscribed to the view put forth by Dan Ingalls

The purpose of the Smalltalk project is to provide computer support for the
creative spirit in everyone.
Design Principles Behind

There are plenty of smart people with different objectives than language
enthusiasts and computer scientists, but the beauty of Smalltalk is that
those objectives don't have to be mutually exclusive. Smalltalk by
definition is more than a  programming language. It's perfectly fine to
create something but it's not Smalltalk/Squeak.

C# and Java are
> both charging down the path of complexity as fast as they can, and
> this is what I would most want to avoid in Smalltalk.  When you go
> mainstream then you have people with some stupid reason they need just
> one more operator, precedence level and so on.  People came to Java to
> avoid the complexity of C++,

A careful look at the history Java seems to indicate otherwise. Java didn't
replace C++ in the business world because C++ never got rooted there outside
of engineering and embedded apps.
... Java filled a vacuum created by the Smalltalk community. Moreover, it
was only able to fill this vacuum riding the Smalltalk-based VisualAge IDE
that Eclipse was born from.
Smalltalk Reloaded: Bits of History From the Golden


> but all the people that caused that
> complexity came along too and soon Java will be worse then C++ ever
> was.
> Do I want Smalltalk to be obscure?  No of course not.  I think a good
> language to look up to is Haskell.  They manage to create for
> themselves a reputation for simply being too hard to grasp, so mostly
> only smart people came.  This is what Smalltalk needs.  More smart
> people.  We need better, faster VM's, libraries, solutions to hard
> problems.  We don't need the masses from C++ et al coming here
> "solving" these issues the same terrible ways they solved them in
> their languages.
> I understand Tim's (and countless others) point about career
> opportunities, but if Smalltalk became the language of choice for
> sitting in a cubicle in a huge organization grinding out the same
> meaningless, boring code year after year, would that be a victory?

While this stereotypical situation does exist, there are also a lot of
individuals and small groups of extreme programmers doing the same thing -
some of them are even using Smalltalk :-) OTOH, there are highly skilled and
creative people at large corporations using mainstream tools that make it
possible for reliable semiconductors, satellites and airplanes to be
designed, built and operated. Without these people, we wouldn't be able to
have this conversation.

I believe that with a bit more focus on enlightened self interest, the
various factions of the Squeak community can have their cake and eat it too.


> On Nov 6, 2007 5:07 AM, Colin Putney <cputney at> wrote:
> >
> > 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
> > evangelism.
> >
> > Colin
> >
> >
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...

More information about the Squeak-dev mailing list