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

Tripp Lilley tripp at perspex.com
Fri Apr 27 18:43:08 UTC 2001

On Fri, 27 Apr 2001 cramakrishnan at acm.org wrote:

> This kind of phenomena was studid by philosophers of science like
> Thomas Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend.

Kuhn is (more or less) the source of the now-overused phrase

> 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 wrote a paper about this for one of my Humanities, Science and
Technology courses many years ago. Unfortunately, I can only currently lay
hands on hardcopy, and even that is buried. Oh, well. It's not like it was
a brilliant or particularly informed piece, anyway.

In breif, though, I argued that one could view the evolution from machine
code to assembly to C to OOP as a series of Kuhnian paradigms, complete
with the existing worldview issues, the "shelving" concept, exemplars, and
so forth.

In Kuhn's parlance, when scientists laboring under a worldview encounter
phenomena they can't explaining using their existing vocabulary, they
"shelve" the problem. As the number of "shelved" problems grows, it
triggers a sort of instability in the worldview that causes the rebels to
look elsewhere for something that encompasses not just what is already
explained, but also all those things that were "shelved". This, according
to Kuhn, is how new paradigms are born.

I see a lot of parallels between that idea applied to science and that
applied to computer science (or, perhaps, "software development
technology"). We have a class of probelms that are fairly readily solved
with existing technologies, but we keep hitting "shelved" problems, so we
work to find something that addresses those as well.

> 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.

Heh... one could say just as easily that it makes old ideas look like new
ones :) One could say this of Linux, as well (he says, running Linux
everywhere, but still wanting more).

   Tripp Lilley  *  http://stargate.eheart.sg505.net/~tlilley/
  "If people would stop behaving like greedy idiots, I'd be sweetness
   and light every fucking day." - Dave Winer, Scripting News, 2001-04-11

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