Being Popular: Here’s an extremely long but interesting essay from Paul Graham about how to design the perfect programming language. He has no plans to do this, of course, but in considering the question he covers a lot of ground on why certain languages have thrived and others haven’t.
One thing hackers like is brevity. Hackers are lazy, in the same way that mathematicians and modernist architects are lazy: they hate anything extraneous. It would not be far from the truth to say that a hacker about to write a program decides what language to use, at least subconsciously, based on the total number of characters he’ll have to type.
And of course:
There is one thing more important than brevity to a hacker: being able to do what you want. In the history of programming languages a surprising amount of effort has gone into preventing programmers from doing things considered to be improper. This is a dangerously presumptuous plan. How can the language designer know what the programmer is going to need to do?
Something to know: Paul Graham hates Java, so if you’re a Java programmer, prepared to be offended. (It was a comment to that post by Joe Langeway that led me to this essay.)