Need clarification

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Nicholas Sterling

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Dec 18, 2010, 5:48:08 PM12/18/10
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Hi. I am interested in results like these, indicators of the
popularity of various languages. Thanks for doing the work. But I
would only consider the results interesting if they compared the
*rates* of activity surrounding the language; is that what is being
measured? That is, a comparison of the *accumulated* activity for
various languages would be quite misleading.

Think of the number of mentions per day as a velocity. That's an
interesting metric, to be sure, conceptually similar to our intuitive
notion of popularity. So is the "acceleration" -- how fast is that
velocity increasing? Perhaps even "jerk" would be interesting. What
is of no interest whatsoever, however, is the "distance" traveled
(total number of mentions), since the cars (languages) all started at
radically different times. I can't think of anything useful that can
be derived from a distance metric (given that we already know how long
the languages have been around).

So, I apologize if this is spelled out clearly somewhere, but I
couldn't find it. Does this site compare velocity and acceleration,
or distance?

David Welton

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Dec 19, 2010, 2:04:55 AM12/19/10
to lan...@googlegroups.com
> Hi.  I am interested in results like these, indicators of the
> popularity of various languages.  Thanks for doing the work.  But I
> would only consider the results interesting if they compared the
> *rates* of activity surrounding the language; is that what is being
> measured?  That is, a comparison of the *accumulated* activity for
> various languages would be quite misleading.

The rates are not currently what is being measured. What is being
measure are the total results.

> Think of the number of mentions per day as a velocity.  That's an
> interesting metric, to be sure, conceptually similar to our intuitive
> notion of popularity.  So is the "acceleration" -- how fast is that
> velocity increasing?  Perhaps even "jerk" would be interesting.  What
> is of no interest whatsoever, however, is the "distance" traveled
> (total number of mentions), since the cars (languages) all started at
> radically different times.  I can't think of anything useful that can
> be derived from a distance metric (given that we already know how long
> the languages have been around).

I really like that analogy - and I've used it myself.

However, I think you can find a lot of meaning in the 'distance',
although I think the idea of making 'acceleration' more visible would
be good.

Just because COBOL isn't used for a lot of new projects doesn't mean
that it's not "popular": indeed, in terms of job listings on
craigslist, it does better than a lot of the other "long tail"
languages. Same with books: if you want to learn about that language,
you can doubtless find more material than, say, Clojure.

Another example is Lisp: it's been around for a very long time, and
yet hasn't covered that much 'distance'. That tells me something.

The site does have a timeline feature:

http://www.langpop.com/timeline.html

But I think it needs some reworking.

--
David N. Welton

http://www.welton.it/davidw/

http://www.dedasys.com/

Nicholas Sterling

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Dec 19, 2010, 3:26:22 AM12/19/10
to lan...@googlegroups.com
I see. Thanks for the patient explanation!

Nicholas

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