Evolve or Die

There's a mantra that echoes in certain tech spheres, that simultaneously strikes fear and inspires, "evolve or die". Usually, this phrase is used with regards to startups and their business models. Your initial idea for a business is probably crap. You've solved a problem no one has or created more problems than you solved, and your balance sheet is heading towards an unrecoverable flat spin. Evolve or die.

But this is also true of societies. If you look at indigenous people anywhere that come in contact with a superior technological force, those groups that most quickly adopted the technology of their enemies or developed radical coping strategies, survived. This is while even though large numbers died off, in many cases the survivors offspring have replaced the conquerors. And while the original culture can never be ressurrected, so too did the conqueror's society undergo an unrecoverable change. If you study the history of Spain and the Americas, you'll see this behavior in action. Evolve or die.

Culture isn't the only collection of ideas and beliefs that experience this transformational experience. Nearly all world religions have done it repeatedly. Economic models such as Communism have been on both sides of this coin. (Evolve into a socialistic market economy or die?). As do people's own sense of self identity. If you believe yourself to be defined by your job, or the car you drive, or the place you live, or even the friends you keep, you will experience an identity crisis when circumstances change. And since the rate of change is increasing on a global scale as our interconnectedness increases, even the self-concept of nationality, race, and even gender will come under constant assult. (To all the culture warriors out there, you have already lost). Evolve or die.

So this concept extends to programming languages as well. In our industry we get a lot of purists, sanctimonious asses who champion the One Right Way To Do It. We get OO purists, Functional Language Purists, Static Typing Purists, Structured Language Purists, I don't know anything but Java Purists, and hosts of others who don't have a handle on anything outside of a narrow domain and so cling to it for fear of losing what relevancy they thought they had. Now they thing about fundamentalism is it is a suicidal religious tendency. It requires one forego reason and willfully ignore evidence that there might be a better way. While it might have a societal benefit in times of duress (provides an escape valve to channel unstable individuals in times of duress), it is detrimental to the individuals themselves. And their individual failures to evolve results in the slow death of the thing they love. Rather than evolving it into something new and beautiful.