Re: Tonight's Death Match: "Objective Heresy" vs. "Church of Objectology."

Paul Evitts (
Fri, 13 Feb 1998 22:26:06 -0800

As a quasi sometime lurker with a pedigree in consulting with the unwashed,
I feel a need to at least add a non-technical perspective on Doug's haunting

"Objects" have acquired a cultural connotation in the mainstream systems
culture, partly because they DO require a new way of thinking among people
who typically regard themselves as part of an elite (see Reich's book 'The
Work Of Nations' for a hilarious introduction to this bizarre mindset) and
therefore resist any kind of change (think of acronyms like NIH and NIMBY).
And, partly, because the IDEA of Objects represents the leading edge in a
culture where dumbing down and getting-the-job-done amounts to a philosophy.

The Church of Objectology notwithstanding, currently a real appreciation of
'objects' requires an openness to 'aaha' experiences and (more directly) an
interest in (e.g.) Turing machines, Von Neumann architectures etc (not to
mention an obsession with personalized metaphoric nomenclature... as opposed
to acronyms).

XML seems to be the kind of break-thru mental framework that will allow
everyone else into the emerging world of distributed objects without undue
intellectual struggle... the short-term victory (once again) of syntax over

However, the DO and OO obsession with personalized metaphoric nomenclature
and humanized mental models (patterns.... 'trust' and risk.... the whole
agent thing?) suggests that there is a shift happening within the community
of real OO types, and that Doug's 'machine' metaphor may represent (excuse
an old hippy) part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Doug Lea wrote:

> Two things I (quite seriously) do not understand:
> 1. How it can be that people do or do not like objects.
> What is there to like or not like? I suspect that `object' is the
> term Turing or Von Neumann would have used instead of TM or automaton
> if they had had the opportunity to build interesting software. The
> defining characteristics of objects are just the same as the defining
> characteristics of machines. Except a little broader in that
> degenerate cases also count as objects yet not machines.
> (OK, I admit to being a revisionist historian about all this, but so
> what.)
> I do understand how it can be that some people do not like particular
> object-oriented programming languages, notations, terminology, or, for
> that matter, particular objects.
> 2. How it can be that XML and other non-computationally-complete but
> useful languages somehow serve as alternatives to objects.
> Good description languages are nice. But they don't do anything
> themselves. So you have to build software to do things with them. And
> you are back to software design, which seems to have little to do with
> XML et al except for the need to somehow link together structre and
> behavior. Which seems to be a roundabout way of defining an OO
> programming system.
> Could someone please straighten me out about either of these?
> --
> Doug Lea, Computer Science Department, SUNY Oswego, Oswego, NY 13126 USA
> 315-341-2688 FAX:315-341-5424