The Fallout of Babel

A rant on what diversity, particularly in the development community, costs in respect to advancement.

Posted in on December 2, 2008

From the Bible, the Tower of Babel, was intended to “reach the heavens”. The result of an achievement of a united humanity. God, seeing what the people were doing, gave each person a different language to confuse them and scattered the people throughout the earth. From dictionary.com, babel is “a scene of noise and confusion”. By analogy, this is what the world came to be a scattered, diversified place. The Fallout of Babel now radiates from everything and keeps humanity from achieving greatness.

A United Front

As a developer, I know over a dozen languages – C, Java, Perl, PHP, Ruby, ColdFusion… I’ve wondered why there are so many. Understandably technology evolves like anything else, and languages must be updated or replaced. But are each necessary?

Let’s look at it from the another angle. Similar to the original storyline, consider the capabilities of a united development community. Think of development using a single language, independent of hardware or medium. Platform and compatibility become non-issues. It’s like an open-source dream. How quickly could your projects be completed if they used a singular technology. How much could be shared? How quickly could we learn?

Is it just a dream?

Of course this reaches much farther than just the development community. Imagine the world at large using a unified language. (there are even variations of sign language.. psht!)

One could argue that such a world would lack competition. Competition that drives us to excel. Again, this is just conjecture. Be that as it may, I would argue in return that we may excel at a greater pace united.

I don’t know how we could get there, even just at a development community. Yet, I believe that united effort has great potential. I can’t explain why we haven’t achieved some variation of the. Maybe we just all seek to stand out. However, is this an inherit human quality or a pressure of society.

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