Across Facebook, Google, Wikipedia, Twitter, and even Jane Street Capital, James Somers delivers insight on how various modern languages shape the projects — and people — around us.
Just as with human linguistics, different code structures impart different design tenets on the programmer. Some are geared towards rapid development (PHP) while others (OCaml, originally an academic language) sacrifice speed for the sake of certainty.
[PHP’s] creator, Rasmus Lerdorf, freely admits he just cobbled it together. “I don’t know how to stop it,” he said in a 2003 interview. “I have absolutely no idea how to write a programming language—I just kept adding the next logical step along the way.”
One wonders if [Jane Street’s programmers] have internalized the system’s constant nagging over time, so that OCaml has become a kind of Newspeak that makes it impossible to think bad thoughts . . . Facebook, by contrast, is a bazaar of small experiments, a smorgasbord of buttons, feeds, and gizmos trying to capture your attention. PHP is made for making—for cooking up features quickly.
It’s up to each of us as traders to find a language that resonates with the principles of design (an admittedly lofty goal for aspiring coders) most important to us. On the flip side, as Facebook’s chief hack Mark Zuckerberg puts it, “Move fast and break things.”
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