[self-interest] OO future (was: An OO history)

cramakrishnan at acm.org cramakrishnan at acm.org
Fri Apr 27 18:21:05 UTC 2001

Jecel Assumpcao Jr writes:
> On Monday 23 April 2001 17:05, Steve Dekorte wrote:
> > On Tuesday, April 17, 2001, at 11:33 AM, Jecel Assumpcao Jr wrote:
> > > [...] I have found it nearly
> > > impossible to change people's minds, to "covert" them...
> >
> > Right, that's the problem I'm getting at. It seems there's so many
> > great technologies/ideas that sit on the shelf because inventors
> > don't understand marketing. It's been said that in engineering there
> > are no technical problems, only people problems. For those of us that
> > want to see the innovations of Smalltalk and Self in widespread use,
> > our biggest problem isn't technological. It's figuring out how to get
> > people to use new technologies.
> Easy: get everyone around them to use them. Most people go with the 
> crowd. Obviously, this leads to a recursive bootstrap problem :-(

This kind of phenomena was studid by philosophers of science like
Thomas Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend.  They argue that it takes time for
innovations to be accepted by the larger community not because the
community is filled with morons, but because it is filled with people
who are very adept at working in their world-view.  To these people,
the innovations are not valuable because they have so much invested in
the old way of doing things.

For example, though the heliocentric view of planetary motion was a
more elegant way to explain the motion of the planets, the geocentric
was actually more accurate with respect observations in Galeleo's
time.  It was able to account for things that could not be explained
until Einstein (the precession of Mars or something like that...).

In the most pessimistic, Kuhn observed that many new scientific
theories are not adopted by the peers of the creators.  It is rather
the next generation or people with different backgrounds who bring
about the adoption of the new theory.  These people never developed a
facility with the old way of doing things and are less reluctant to

I don't know the histroy of ideas in computer science -- does this
accurately describe e.g., the adoption of relational
vs. navigational/hierarchical databases.

I'm reminded of Alan Key's barb about Java being dangerous because it
makes new ideas look like old ones.  Perhaps that's also why Java has
been so quickly adopted.

> To solve this problem, I am targetting schools which want to look more 
> modern than the others. If all students in a class get a new computer 
> on the same day, then they will be using what everyone around them is 
> using without any of them having to be the "early adopter".

That's a good approach.

My plan is to target people who want and need to use programming as a
tool, but who don't know much programming.  In particular, I want to
go after computer musicians.  MAX/MSP is a programming environment
that many are familiar with and it has a Self 4-like user-interface.
However, many tasks that should be easy are cumbersome in it.
SuperCollider, on the other hand is a Smalltalk-like language for
making music.  It's very powerful, but more difficult for people to
get into (partially because it doesn't have things that make Smalltalk
so nice -- like debuggers and browsers).

I think an approach that combines the best of these two using Self has
a chance to get adopted.

> > But if it were your goal is to change the
> > world(in your case it isn't),
> Actually, it is. In fact, I intend to change it twice in a row just so 
> that nobody can claim I just got lucky.

For me, just the fact that I can run Self and Smalltalk on my
Macintosh Powerbook and that we are here discussing them is an
outstading success for all these things.

- sekhar

C. Ramakrishnan        cramakrishnan at acm.org

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