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Thanks to Roberto Guerra on the Objects on Rails mailing list for making me aware of this fascinating paper:

The distinction between class-based and prototype-based systems reflects a long-lasting philosophical dispute concerning the representation of abstractions. Plato viewed forms — stable, abstract, “ideal” descriptions of things — as having an existence more real than instances of those things in the real world. Class-based languages such as Smalltalk, C++ or Simula are Platonic in their explicit use of classes to represent similarity among collections of objects. Prototype-based systems such as Self [UnS87], Omega [Bla91, Bla94], Kevo [Tai92, Tai93], GlyphicScript [Gly94] and NewtonScript [SLS94] represent another view of the world, in which one does not rely so much on advance categorization and classification, but rather tries to make the concepts in the problem domain as tangible and intuitive as possible. A typical argument in favor of prototypes is that people seem to be a lot better at dealing with specific examples first, then generalizing from them, than they are at absorbing general abstract principles first and later applying them in particular cases.

Prototypes give rise to a broad spectrum of interesting technical, conceptual and philosophical issues. In this paper we take a rather unusual, non-technical approach and investigate object-oriented programming and the prototype-based programming field from a purely philosophical viewpoint. Some historical facts and observations pertaining to objects and prototypes are presented, and conclusions based on those observations are derived.

The whole thing is very much worth reading (click the tiny PDF icon); I found the description of the Kevo language at the end particularly interesting.

Daniel Spiewak on Monads

Anyone trying to understand monads will inevitably run into Haskell’s IO monad, and the results are almost always the same: bewilderment, confusion, anger, and ultimately Perl. via Monads Are Not Metaphors – Code Commit. A thoroughly enjoyable read, recommended.

Why Go Matters

This week Google announced a new systems programming language called “Go”. I know you’re pressed for time and overloaded with information, so let me restate that, with the important bits emphasized: Google announced a new SYSTEMS programming language. See that word between “new” and “programming”? The systems part seems to have gotten lost in a […]

Languages I Want to Learn

I’ve fallen off the wagon of late in learning “a language a year” (as The Pragmatic Programmer advises). I have a long list of languages to learn, but I thought I’d try and narrow it down to a top five. Here goes: * “Io”:http://www.iolanguage.com/ – the more I work in OO the more I am […]

Virtuous Language Design

Eric.weblog() reminded me of an excellent interview with Anders Hejlsberg on generics in C#, Java, and C++. Anders is the kind of person you want in charge of designing a language. In the interview he demonstrates a deep knowledge of the how competing languages implement generics, and the implications of those design decisions. While he […]

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Virtuous Code

"The three virtues of a programmer: laziness, impatience, and hubris" — Larry Wall

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Confident Ruby

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32 Patterns for joyful coding.

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Objects on Rails

Objects on Rails

A developer notebook on applying classic Object-Oriented principles to Ruby on Rails projects.

Exceptional Ruby

Exceptional Ruby

The definitive guide to exceptions and failure handling in Ruby.

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