Saturday, March 26, 2005

PyCon Mentions; Misplaced Evangelism

It seems my name got mentioned in no fewer than five PyCon presentations, including Guido's keynote. I only actually heard two of the mentions myself, and was told about two others. The fifth I just found in the SubEthaEdit notes on Fred Drake's presentation. I suppose I should only worry that my name gets spelled right (which isn't even an issue in verbal presentations), but it bothers me a little when my positions on things are misrepresented.

It sounds like Fred Drake used my "Python is not Java" post to conclude that I think XML is evil. I don't. A quick look at peak.web will show you that I actually voluntarily created an XML format of my own -- horrors! The point of the Python-is-not-Java rant was that Java programmers are way too quick to use XML in Python when there are better alternatives. It's rare that XML is the right choice for anything but a marshalling format or document markup.

I do object to "XML will save the world" attitudes, though. It's a data format, for crying out loud, not a mission in life. Similarly, I'm a skeptic about "Semantic Web" evangelism, but that's more because I'm cynical about the social dynamics required to get it off the ground, than because of any technical issues.

What's even weirder to me is that people then attribute these sorts of "missionary positions" to me. For example, because I've pointed out that various techniques are subsets of what generic functions do, some people have then assumed that I'm some kind of "true believer" out to promote generic functions as the savior of mankind. Which is pure rubbish, because if that were the case I would've used them in Spike, for example. Every technology has pros and cons that depend on the situation. No technology is a panacea. Heck, sometimes it's a good idea to use languages other than Python! :)

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