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The 7 most popular technology cults

How a tech company can shape your belief system

For many of us gadgets and the tech companies that create them are part of our whole belief system. We've identified the seven most popular tech cults, so which one do you belong to?

Brotherhood of the Ruby

Established: 1994

Gathering of the tribes: RailsConf, RubyConf

Major deities: Matz, DHH

Mantra: MINSWAN (Matz is nice, so we are nice)

Programming language Ruby and its younger, sleeker sibling, Ruby on Rails, evoke the kind of devotion usually seen in disciples who've spent years in the wilderness, only to find themselves on the cusp of mainstream acceptance.

"It helps that we're better than everyone else," jokes Obie Fernandez, author of one of the cult's sacred texts, 'The Rails Way', and CEO of Hashrocket, a Ruby on Rails development house.

"One of the main ingredients for cult devotion is a sense of superiority. Also, from the beginning we faced a lot of resistance. That persecution complex definitely helped sow the seeds of cultishness."

Ruby was created in 1994 by the Zen-like Yukihiro Matsumoto, known simply as 'Matz'. He wanted to create a scripting language he described as "more powerful than Perl, more object oriented than Python". An open source community soon formed around Ruby, along with the philosophy of MINSWAN, or ‘Matz is nice, so we are nice'.

In 2004, David Heinemeier Hansson (DHH) developed Ruby on Rails, an application framework based on Ruby that enables rapid-fire development of sleek-looking websites.

"Thanks to a groundswell of open source support, Rails is very mature right now," says Fernandez. "The amount of enthusiasm in the community has created a richness of libraries and plug-ins around the framework, making it both powerful and productive."

While there is some rivalry between Rubyists and members of the Python cult, Fernandez says both are sworn enemies of the compiler clan. Being a dynamic language, Ruby doesn't require compiling before being run, leading to less coding and fewer errors, he says. Followers of static compiled languages like Java and .Net may not-so-respectfully disagree, he acknowledges.

The Ruby cult is also fiercely Mac-centric. Brandishing a Windows PC within view of a Rubyist can become a life-altering event, and not in a good way. "From the beginning we've taken a page from Apple playbook and concentrated on being superior," adds Fernandez.

"We're not afraid to show off and look more polished than everyone else."

NEXT PAGE: The Ubuntu tribe

  1. How a tech company can shape your whole belief system
  2. The way of the Palm
  3. Brotherhood of the Ruby
  4. The Ubuntu tribe
  5. The Commodorians
  6. The Order of the Lisp
  7. Monks of the Midrange
  8. The Tao of Newton


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