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August 16, 19:49

The Python (aka Ruby) Paradox

Paul Graham follows up on his original missive towards the Java drones and companies of the world with a further explanation of The Python Paradox:

I'll call the Python paradox: if a company chooses to write its software in a comparatively esoteric language, they'll be able to hire better programmers, because they'll attract only those who cared enough to learn it...

Only a few companies have been smart enough to realize this so far. But there is a kind of selection going on here too: they're exactly the companies programmers would most like to work for.

Developing successful software is much cheaper and easier if you're able to attract the best of brains. Programming projects scales rather poorly, so if you're able to do the same with less people, you'll experience non-linear benefits.

So what are you waiting for? Pick a dynamic language like Ruby, Python, or Smalltalk, hire from the grade-A talent pools, and get a shot a competitive advantage.

Challenge by Morten Wittrock on August 16, 20:38

I find it amusing how PH argues that "people don't learn Python because it will get them a job" and then goes on to mention that when Google "advertise Java programming jobs, they also want Python experience". Come to think of it, I find him amusing in general :-)

Challenge by David Heinemeier Hansson on August 16, 20:54

Google is highlighted as a clued-in company in contrast to rest of the corporate (and Java-loving) companies out there. That is they're in the minority.

If you're programming just for the paycheck, it would probably not be prudent to acquire skills wanted by just the minority. You want to target Boring Corporate, so you learn what they want. Java, VB, C#.

Challenge by Morten Wittrock on August 16, 21:13

So in order to land a job at a small selection of cool, clued-in companies, as opposed to the grey mass of boring, clueless corporations, I need to learn Python? Seems to me that learning Python would be a smart move. Wait a minute, I wouldn't exactly be learning it out of love, then.

Programmers that are in it merely for the paycheck, will _always_ be second rate compared to those who love programming. That's a sentiment I agree 100% with. What I can't agree with, is the proposition that a programmer's skills and her choice of language is more than loosely correlated.

Challenge by Morten on August 16, 21:14

I think you're giving the google hypothesis a little too much credit:

Challenge by Søren Bak on August 17, 12:24

I believe this discussion would be much more interesting, not to mention meaningful, if at least an empirical foundation were available.

Challenge by Morten Krog on August 17, 16:47

David you are so full of it.

Currently my language of love is C#, my API-platform of love is .NET and my OS of love is Linux.

I must obviously be 67% a coperate drone and 2nd rate programmer. I think not.

On the other hand I think I could name more than one crazy person who would be willing to code a Web-App entirely in Bash. I guess they are in an even smaller minority than the ruby crowed and must then obviously be even more productive....

It's hilarious.

Challenge by gabriele on August 18, 16:30

Morten, I think you fit the scheme, indeed.

You happen to love C#/.net so you're (probably) a better coder than one that just learned it to get a job.
It's a "people that like x are better than people that just happen to use a thing".

The "exoteric language" thing should just be read as "it's more likely to get someone that likes X if X has not a huge market department and many job offers".
I bet london to a brick that there are smart people that enjoy Java and are wonderful coders.

Challenge by Gav on November 12, 18:58

What I want to really know is did graham make up everything about viaweb and most of it cna be done with modern methods in perl etc with mason adn he got his harvard MBA buds to buy viaweb and claim esoteric superiority using a crazy language called lisp.