Sociology of a Language Construct

LtU readers know I tend to stress the importance of language communities and their impact on language success as well as language evolution. Thus, I feel I am allowed to point you to this sociology paper.

Aside from the humour, you might want to reflect on the applicability of the ideas presented in the paper to the notion of language expressiveness (think of the community of language constructs), and to the interaction between programmers and language constructs.

Beware: If you are new to this sort of thing, sections five and six are likely to infuriate you (or simply to sound incredibly stupid)...

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Nobody finds this amusing?!

Nobody finds this amusing?!

There is more to writing than typing

The internet provides an inexhaustible treasure house of writing for us to read. This raises standards generally and is especially hard on writers who waffle. There is too much to read and this forces on readers a painful awareness that reading takes time. To read one thing is to choose not to read something else. To read Burno Latour is to choose not to read three other things.

In the twenty-first century, nobody reads writing as windy and self indulgent are Where are the Missing Masses. It might as well not have been written at all. The skill of writing has moved on, and Burno Latour can no longer consider himself literate.

no time to shorten

As Alan suggests, today's response to "I'm sorry, but I did not have the time to make this shorter" is "We're sorry, but we did not have the time to read past the first half-paragraph."


In the twenty-first century, nobody reads writing as windy and self indulgent are Where are the Missing Masses.

When I visited the college in the 80s the techies hated to read philosophical texts and found them completely pointless. Twenty yrs later those same people try to analyse culture+politics+society etc. with the mindset of 14 yrs old undereducated people. So I'm not completely sure who is illiterate here?



Nothing refutes a generalization so well as a single counter-example.

Obviously the poster read and enjoyed the article - as I am doing right now.

In it's meandering style the writing raises good points, even if you have to look for them at times.

I especially appreciate the concerns about syntax and sematics this brings up for me - since I'm attempting to design a language myself. (For those who've read it and not seen what I mean : it's the question of "What kind of person do I want passing through my door?" OR "Who are you designing your language for / to be used by?")

Well, I for one found it

Well, I for one found it pretty amusing. Of course, I also enjoyed(and still do...) Perl, the first postmodern programming language, so my standards of taste are perhaps a bit off to begin with...


This is almost to deep to comment on. Although it is easy to appreciate as an excellent literary statement. Things, languages, and ways of thinking probably define us as who we are. We should not wonder at why language is so political, or cultures are always in competition, or at how "things" change the world. Is the media the real message?

Which 5 and 6?

sections five and six are likely to infuriate you

Do you mean the first 5 and 6, or the second 5 and 6? Or the fact that there are two versions of them? :-)

I think I meant the first

I think I meant the first ones. I didn't notice that the numbering wasn't monotonic...

The meaning of action

The distinctions betwen humans or non-humans, embodied or disembodied skills, impersonation or "machination", are less interesting that the complete chain along which competences and actions are distributed.

It is the end result that matters but we often care more about how something is done than the end result because the "how" introduces other kinds of constraints. Such as who gets paid and who pays.

A tenuous link

That must be the last word on the matter

Well ... almost.