How (Code) Language Creates Its Own Culture

Tue Apr 16, 2013

Google Hangout with ezeep

Yesterday I participated in a discussion that Berlin-based startup ezeep hosted, in which we discussed the various cultures around programming languages, and how those cultures shape the real-life projects we work on. The topic stemmed from ezeep’s recent decision to rewrite their backend in Python.

Something that Marian Zange mentioned struck me as the real meat of this discussion:

…even if you join our team through a marketing or sales route, you’ll get an engineering intro (the happy, smiling ‘light edition’) to explore parts of our code, learn how to read it and understand the inner-workings of our product.

This kind of intro for non-technical participants to a project’s codebase was once unheard of. It’s symptomatic of a larger trend in programming–I believe–that communication with those outside the walls of the programming community is essential to evolving a project, and more broadly, evolving how languages are structured. The culture around languages like Python and Ruby are certainly making coding more accessible to anyone interested. Free online tools like Code Academy seem to have caught on like wildfire, and in the long term, will simply make people smarter and more well-rounded problem solvers. And as long as companies like ezeep take the time to explain the inner-workings of their product to their employees, we might see less of a dividing line between the technical and “non-technical” camps among people that have a common interest in technology.