The “Arrival” Theory

If you haven’t seen the movie Arrival, shame on you. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would, but it’s very good and it’s definitely food for brain. Anyway, If you’re considering watching it, stop reading here and maybe read this article AFTER the movie because of

So, in very short, in the movie these guys meet aliens. They eventually realize the aliens are multi-dimensional creatures and therefore the time dimension is just one of the many dimensions the perceive.
In the process of getting to know them, they learn the weird alien writing system which is non-linear, pictogram based, and seems to express concepts as events crossing time. Whatever I meant here, seriously, I don’t understand what I just wrote.

And here’s the reason why I’m talking about this. The main character of the movie starts getting glimpses of the future in her head as she’s learning the alien language. Not because of magic, but because “when you learn a foreign language, you slowly understand the way of thinking of an entire People”.

I think there’s a certain degree of truth in this idea and even before the movie itself, I could clearly feel it. The natural complexity of my mother tongue that sometimes is motivated by the mere beauty of its sound is an excellent representation of the Italian aesthetic sense. Then, gaining a certain skill in the English language taught me more of the Anglo-Saxon culture than most of my direct experiences.

But since I deal with weird languages every day, a question raised in my head.

Does this apply to programming languages as well?

Geeks are a subculture, but if you get to know developers well, you quickly realize every programming language creates pocket subcultures as well. This is even more interesting considering we live in different countries, nonetheless some peculiarities cross oceans. It’s one of the purest, most genuine forms of globalisation.

Ignore anyone you know who’s doing their job because “life” and consider everyone who’s doing it for passion. Now group them by the programming language they dig, and you will soon discover that you’re outlining tribes.
I’m not talking about just programming mindset, but everyday life.

I don’t know if it’s them who have chosen the programming language or the programming language that chose them, but in the end you can see behavioral patterns.
Note: often times a programming language implies a field of application, so that should be part of the schema as well.

I must admit I didn’t deal with tons of programming languages or programmers in general, but for the pure fun of it, read my personal conclusions. Let’s be clear, this is just for fun, don’t get offended or anything!

Javascript. The artists. The adopters of the most popular programming language in the world (as we speak) are characterized by a big ego and pride on anything they do. They’re always willing to demonstrate that theirs is the biggest, but for a noble reason: a urge of competitive creativity. Creativity and the need to turn ugly things into beautiful things is in their DNA (is that why they chose Javascript?) and this applies to work and personal life.
Directly controlling everything is part of their mindset, so if something happens in their kingdom, they know.

Java. The Architect. Adopters like myself, are thinkers, sometimes over-thinkers. We don’t like to hurry and love planning stuff in every minuscule detail, in programming and real world, to the point we explode in rage when things don’t go as planned. Many times, the planning is so important in brings nowhere, like when we’re at the grocery store with a list of things to buy, we literally take them in the list order and ignore proximity.
We always think big, and every dream has to do with radical changes, not everyday battles.
Delegation and trust is more than fine with us, also due to our natural born laziness.

Scala. The Orchestra Director. They are pretty much like Java guys with even a stronger need to orchestrate everybody and everything, control maniacs maybe? But somehow they balance usefulness and taste in a very peculiar way. All Scala devs I met are grammar nazis, guess why.

Erlang. The Scientist. Though I don’t have lots of friends digging Erlang, they all seem to be strange creatures, living between a strong mathematical mindset and an attitude to be free thinkers. Among all developers, they’re the most interesting ones, both professionally and from a personal point of view.

PHP. The Swiss Army Knife. Problems need to get solved, whatever tool or trick is needed. Independent, Generous and frenetic, travelers and open minded, they often are all over the place. They sometimes try to act cool, but reality is they’re very practical. Planning is not their thing, and most of the time they get away with it using an astonishing instinct.

C++. The Guru. They should put C++ developers in the dictionary as synonym of enlightenment. Pragmatic, calm, to the point you want to strangle them. These developers are rare people as professional and as humans. Often times old fashioned, their attitude to dig under the surface of things makes them reliable and source of interesting conversations.

Wish I know more Go and Ruby developers to talk about them. I met some, but not enough to get an opinion.

You’re allowed to think I’m disgustingly romantic, but I think there’s a beautiful thread connecting us geeks, based on how we solve problems.
It’s comforting to think that on the other side of the world there’s a Bay Area rock star or an industrious Indian pal that knows my daily challenges and shares my mindset in problem solving.
Trust me me when I say this work can be pretty lonely and this loneliness can get scary when you need to take future-changing decisions. But you know what makes it easier? Another Java developer on StackOverflow saying you’re an “idiot” because you didn’t consider the obvious. A C++ developer would say “You have a long road ahead”, but you get the concept!



2 thoughts on “The “Arrival” Theory

    • Belonging to more tribes at the same time is mind blowing, so good for you!
      But I just realized I left Python guys out, hope they don’t mind… so races expansion in definitely on its way 😀

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