08. January 2006
Fifteen, twenty years ago North America was a culinary wasteland, save for the rare pockets scattered along east, west and south coasts. A brief trip to places like New Orleans would shock and jolt the palate of the plain white crustless bread, stake-and-potatoes visitors. Of course, let’s not forget other fine culinary spots, such as Manhattan, San Francisco, and several other islands in the otherwise homogenous sea of mediocrity.
Things started to change rapidly in the nineties, reaching levels of unprecedented sophistication in dinning and wining. Today, we can enjoy the incredibly opulent selection offered to us through stores such as The Whole Paycheck (er, Whole Foods), but things were drastically different only fifteen years ago.
I remember how unpopular wine drinking was not that long ago. Especially in my neck of the woods (I live in Vancouver, British Columbia, where most locals still mentally inhabit the 19th century time zone). Up until very recently, this was a beer country. All normal, regular males were expected to drink beer. Wine was mostly available in those hideous 4 litre carton boxes, and tasted like pee that went bad. Anyone caught preferring or, god forbid, drinking wine was declared gay on the spot. It used to be very hard to smuggle a bottle of import wine into one’s apartment.
At social gatherings, wine drinking was reserved for the female population. Men were either expected to chug beer, or go with some hard booze.
Luckily, things started changing for the better, and now we have pretty decent selection of import wines from all around the world. Plus, straight men are not afraid that they’ll be labelled as ‘faggots’ if they are seen drinking wine in public.
What Does Wine Have to Do With Ruby on Rails?
Programming languages and development platforms are kind of similar to alcoholic beverages. Majority of software developers choose products that belong to the beer category. Sure, there’s plenty of variety there, but in the final analysis, it’s all beer after all. Thus programming languages such as Pascal, Perl, Java, C#, ColdFusion, PHP etc. are basically just different varieties of beer (like, dark beer, pale ale, lager, etc.) Languages such as Assembler and C are more like hard liqueurs (e.g. whiskey, tequila, vodka). Languages such as Smalltalk, Python, Lisp, are like white wine — sophisticated and enchanting.
Finally, languages like Ruby (with all its domain specific flavors, such as Rake and Ruby on Rails) are like red wine. Red wine is that special gamut of products that demand incredibly high level of devotion and finesse, thus creating its own breed of aficionados.
And like the friction that wine drinkers were having with the overruling beer crowd, Ruby and Ruby on Rails users are today experiencing similar friction coming from the ‘beer crowd’ of programming languages. Most of the dissent seems to be coming from the ‘plain vanilla’ lager crowd (the Java consumers). There’s also some dissent coming from the ‘white wine’ crowd, but in a much more civilized fashion.
I wonder if the same cultural evolution, that helped promote the spreading of the red wine culture throughout North America, will happen for the ‘red wine of software development’, that is, for Ruby on Rails? At this point, it doesn’t seem very likely, as anyone who’s using Rails seems to be labelled in a knee-jerk fashion as being ‘queer’. It is obvious that the mainstream crowd of software developers (i.e. the beer drinking crowd) is extremely uncomfortable with the uprising of the red wine drinking crowd (i.e. the Ruby on Rails). The beer drinking crowd confesses that they simply don’t get what could possibly be so enchanting about enjoying the red wine.
Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail, and the medical findings that red wine is actually beneficial for one’s health will pave the way toward adopting the red wine consumption on a larger scale.