The Power of Late Binding


Late binding tattoo

Lately the subject of late binding keeps coming up. In computer science the term refers to runtime resolution of what names mean and includes the concept of dynamic loading. Most of the languages that have gained favor over the last decade like Python and Ruby are late binding languages. Usually these languages also include other runtime resolution features like dynamic types. Raising the topic causes programmers to reach for their crusader sword and shield as they prepare for the religious battle that is sure to follow. Late binding is a big deal in many OO langauges because of the influence of Alan Kay (the creator of Smalltalk and big fan of late binding). And to be sure, some dynamic features--like dynamic scoping--have few adherents.

I find this concept resonates--to my surprise--with non-programmers as well. Last week in NY I described Kynetx as a "late-binding Web technology" and went on to explain that traditional Web site construction is like static binding--you make all the decisions up front and spend lots of effort coding it, only then to reveal it to the world. Kynetx is a late-binding Web technology because it comes long at runtime--just as the user visits the site--and makes important changes specific to that user's context.

I was reading this blog post from John Hagel about his new book (along with Lang Davison and John Seely-Brown called The Power of Pull. He says:

Pull allows each of us to find and access people and resources when we need them, while attracting to us the people and resources that are relevant and valuable, even if we were not even aware before that they existed. Finally, in a world of mounting pressure and unforeseen opportunities, pull gives us the ability to draw from within ourselves the insight and performance required to more effectively achieve our potential.

The power of pull puts each of us, individually and together, in a position to collaborate in a complete re-imagination of our biggest private-and public-sector institutions, one that may eventually remake society as a whole. As customers, we have more choices, and more information with which to make those choices, than ever before. As talented employees we have greater power too than before, since we create the lion's share of today's corporate profitability.  As each of us votes with our feet and allies ourselves with new generations of institutions, we'll abandon the old ones, leaving them to drift into obsolescence and setting in motion a reshaping of broad arenas of economic and civic life.

From Edge Perspectives with John Hagel: The Power of Pull Has Finally Arrived
Referenced Thu Apr 22 2010 09:32:54 GMT-0600 (MDT)

A concept that they use in the book is the shift from stocks of resources to flows. Anyone who's been paying attention for the last 10 years knows that the move to flows is a huge trend in the modern world. The idea that you pull things to you "just in time" from the flows that are all around us is very much a late binding concept.

The more dynamic the Internet gets, the more data there is floating around, the more we mashup things to create just what we need, the more important late binding becomes--in your life, your programming language, and your Web technology.