On 24 Nov 2009, at 22:31, Richard O'Keefe wrote:

> Please, let's not argue about words.  Let's argue about semantics.
> The fact of the matter is that people do have strong feelings about
> what is intuitive and what is not, and that these feelings are not
> idiosyncratic but widespread.  That doesn't mean they are universal.
> It doesn't mean that they are not culture-bound.  But if we can
> have studies of why people choose one political party of another,
> we can have studies of why people report that one programming
> approach is more "intuitive" than another

The fact that people have strong feelings about something doesn't make it 
meaningful. Sure we can have studies about political parties because in general 
quite a few people have fairly concrete reasons for picking one over another 
(though I think that a surprisingly large number of people would fall back on 
things that are unquantifiable like "niceness"). If people report than 
programming language is more "intuitive" than another then ask those people why 
and see what they say : I bet most of them can't tell you why and just end up 
either going round in circles or saying "it just is". You also have to do it 
with some new programming language they have never met before or else your 
result is entirely comprised by previous experience of the language.

I think something far more interesting but sort of related is why people get 
emotional attachments (or otherwise) to languages. I have a passionate dislike 
of Java and do not get on at all with Python or Perl, but I have always like 
tcl a lot. I can give you reasons but they are probably not well argued or 
indeed sensible and I know this, but that doesn't change my feelings about them 
and it is unlikely that anything will particularly wrt to Java. (c.f. Norman's 
Emotional Design)

BTW I can't think of any programming languages that are intuitive, not even 
slightly.

L.

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