Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Pidgin, Creole and Fluency and the New Wave

With 100's of people waiting for Dr Who (7x06) at Eastercon 2013

Went to EasterCon last weekend (Easter 2013) with Alex and Mark. They're both more widely read than I and blessed with fearsome intelligences but they let me tag along anyway.

I sort of want to say that going to EasterCon made me feel normal but then I'm stuck with what that means... does that mean that in comparison to the other people attending I'd be seen as normal? Or does it simple mean that I'm in a place where I'm seen as normal?

Deep ehh? Or bollocks, not sure.

Anyway, before leaving at lunchtime on Sunday I attended a fascinating talk:

Where Is The New Wave Now? 11am-12pm. Hawthorn. In the 1960s, the New Wave of SF introduced sex, drugs and experimental formalism to SF. SF has never been the same since: but nor is it a continuation of the New Wave style. Our panel ask what SF has kept from the New Wave, what it has dropped, and what it should be bringing back. Kev McVeigh moderates Jo Fletcher, Farah Mendlesohn and Chris Priest.

I'm pretty sure I'd heard Farah Mendlesohn talk last year and enjoyed her perspective. This year was the same as she blew me away when she talked about the evolution of languages... it got me thinking to such a degree that I forgot to listen to much of the rest of the panel.

What it got me thinking about wasn't so much the New Wave of Science Fiction in the 1960s (hey, I cut my Science Fiction teeth reading Micheal Moorcock) but rather that the example they showed has permeated any number of disciplines since. I guess that that sort of "evolution" within a field of discourse isn't necessarily new so perhaps I'm putting too much importance on the New Wave's influence, but it did get me thinking. I guess that it is putting too much credit at the feet of the New Wave thinking about it: Dr. Alan Chalmers, in his book What Is This Thing Called Science? talked extensively about the "r/evolutions" within Scientific discourse and changes in popular music show equal "d/evolution" (It's in the nature of the old to criticise the music of the young (but isn't all just noise?)).

Anyway, before I lose my thread totally, I started thinking about the nature of JavaScript. I'd talked with Alex on the way up to Bradford about JavaScript and I've heard him say that the question must now be asked, "Why wouldn't you do it with JavaScript?". Seems as though he's not alone in this approach. I know I'm a huge fan of the language, but more and more people are being swayed by its attractions.

What Farah Mendlesohn said was that languages started out as Pidgin in the first generation, became a Creole in members of the second generation, and that by the third generation people were fluent speakers of the language.

JavaScript used to be seen as the poor relative of computer languages, something that those designers used to make things pretty or interesting, but not of any use to the serious programmer. With the widespread adoption of AJAX techniques JavaScript became something a little more refined. More recently we've got gorgeous libraries like jQuery which serve to abstract the various 'orrible browser dialects and make something elegant while retaining the power of the underlying language.

I've recently joined the lovely jQuery Google+ Community and I'm always amazed by the answers there to questions posed by other members of the community. People are just so helpful and whenever I throw my hand in and attempt to answer a question I'm blown away by the answers of others who've perhaps been doing this professionally for more than 3 years. I only hope that when I've got a few more hours under my belt I'll be as eloquent in my favourite language.

But I guess that's partially it. I was studying as AJAX became the great new thing (along with rounded corners), my dissertation was all about it because I was so excited by it, but I've come quite late to the language and it's constantly surprising me and I'm always learning new facets of it. I've not get hit Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hours but I'm getting there and enjoying every minute!