Saturday, November 14, 2009

Is Purity Ever Really a Virtue? ↦

Rafe Colburn on purity in computing:

I think that placing a high value on purity is in nearly all cases a case of intellectual laziness. An obsession with purity allows you to avoid critically evaluating factors that might otherwise go into making the best decision. For example, let’s say I’m writing an application using Ruby on Rails and I need an XML parser. Some would argue that I should only use “pure Ruby” XML parsers and leave it at that, but that’s not helpful. Impure parsers may be faster, or offer more features. On the other hand, pure Ruby parser may be easier to deploy. But the discussion should center on those competing benefits, not on the abstract concept of purity.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds”.