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Adolescence isn't all that it's cracked up to be

Posted by johnreynolds on November 5, 2004 at 7:15 AM PST

Brian Marick recently blogged: "I worry that the adolescence of computers is almost over, and that we're settling into that stagnant adulthood where you just plod on in the world as others made it, occasionally wistfully remembering the time when you thought endless possibility was all around you."

Brian's high school memories must be a bit fonder then my own ;-)

I understand Brian's sentiments, and share many of them, but I'd like to speak up and praise the merits of maturity. Endless possibilities were never around us... we always have been and always will be bound by our basic natures.

Adolescents are head-strong and righteous. Every idea that catches their fancy is new and original. Every disagreement is passionate and personal. A lot of yelling and shouting takes place.

Adolescents are oblivious to the possibility that this behavior might not be a good thing as you can see here in Exhibit A:

"One last piece of wisdom, the tone of the lists can be very aggresive. People here are usually talented and pig-headed or equivalently from Russia (with love to spare). So the discussions look like flames... well they are flames. As long as your information is tight and of good quality we don't care about the arrogance. It's a playground, it's all a big playground. So e-n-joy it."

Witness our own Java community's recent bickering over EJB versus JDO, Swing versus SWT, Tapestry versus JSF, Eclipse versus Netbeans, etc. There are many legitimate concerns underlying all of these disagreements, but very few true roadblocks to compromise and cooperation.

Arrogance is very destructive. I know, I was an arrogant jerk for years and still suffer relapses (it's kind of like being an alcoholic, you're never really cured).

So growing up is a good thing: The end of adolescence opens up real if not endless opportunities, and you've got the wisdom to know which opportunities really should be pursued.

I think that Java's maturity could be really great. Java's adolescence was kind of awkward... the growth spurts left him uncoordinated and the hormone swings ruined his complexion. His legs were always longer then his pants and his socks never matched. Much of Java's "philosophy" was convoluted, esoteric, and just plain wierd.

Java has baggage, but baggage can be discarded. Java can refocus on making the easy things easy and the harder things possible. Java can calm down, become more effective, and be more fun to work with.

Being an adult is a good thing.

(Cross posted at The Thoughtful Programmer)

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