Every decade or so we have a major revolution in the way we develop software and the environments we develop for. But, unlike the object and web revolutions, we can see the concurrency revolution coming.
I've watched and participated on the periphery of several "waves" of computing progress. Yes, I wrote my very first SNOBOL programs on punch cards. Yes, I wrote a networked database application in MP/M. Yes, I wrote commercial software for Macintosh and marvelled at its Toolbox. And to learn Java, I used it to write a Scheme interpreter. (And yes, it did optimize tail calls and support continuations).
So I've lived on and in this ocean we call the computing industry, or computer science, or programming, for a while. I've seen it roil
, I've seen it's placid moments
. And I've seen its thundering, express train waves
And I can tell you, it feels like another big wave is coming
. A monster wave. A wave of tow-in surfing epic proportions. It's damn exciting. It feels like if we paddle like hell and try to stand on our boards we could be sucked under and crushed.
Or we could have the ride of our life, teeth bared in the most insanely happy grin we've ever worn.
I know that after the wave hits the shore, it will obliterate half of the vending stalls and the beach blankets and the hordes of sun tanners. And when the water subsides the industry will rebuild the beach houses and the industry will reopen the vending stalls, and the people who are rich today will probably still be rich then.
It's tempting to just wait, wait for the wave to hit and for the water to suck back into the ocean. Wait for others to solve the problems, to harness the energy. Wait until Microsoft and Sun and Apple and Linux and Apache and whoever else decide what we should do. Wait until they give us the frameworks, until they tell us where to swim.
Wait until there's no risk, like many people did with the Web and with Java and with their whole lives.
We can wait, just hunker on the shore and not take any chances out there in the water on our own.
But where's the fun in that?