Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Journey to the Kingdom of Verbs

HRH, DGR Terra Nominem, greetings

Your Grace. In furtherance of your desire to establish diplomatic relations with our neighbors, I have traveled to the Kingdom of Verbs to meet with Queen Repl. I fear that our potential for commerce is limited. They follow exceedingly strange customs, which I shall attempt to relay by anecdote.

To all appearances Queen Repl is the sole permanent inhabitant of the land. She creates minions from pure thought, and these minions exist solely at her discretion. The queen will create complex hierarchies of these minions to fulfill a task, and when the task is complete, the minions disappear. While some of the minions are given names, those names describe but do not define them; each minion is a unique entity, created for a single purpose.

The method by which these minions interact is also exceedingly strange; it took me months to understand it. While we follow the dictum of “tell, don't ask,” they abide by “ask, and you shall receive.” And while we use diverse techniques such as Queues and Busses to decouple Producers and Consumers, they know exactly whom to ask for a service and do not look elsewhere.

Data is a topic that is rarely discussed in this land; indeed, at times it seems almost a taboo. In some cases, when asked for data, a minion will go so far as to create another minion to provide the answer, rather than speaking directly. I can only imagine this as dedication to Platonism: there is an ideal, and there are forms of that ideal, and minions work with the forms while the ideal remains unknowable. Again, it seems uncommonly strange to us, but appears to work for them.

However, this attitude toward data left me with a question: whence comes inputs to the land, and where goeth outputs? Or is the land truly inward facing, minions performing actions without effect? The answer to this question, as you might surmise, was critical to my ability to engage the Queen.

I found the answer to this question in the monadii. They go by various names, but their role is to provide minions with an ultimate source and sink for data. At first, I thought they were like the Flappers of Laputa, standing in the background to make their masters aware of the outside world. As time passed, I realized that they also were bound by the dictum of the land, and only spoke when spoken to. It was my great fortune to learn that there was a minion responsible for listening to the monadii and asking the Queen to interpret their words.

To bring my story to a close, and not waste more of your precious time, I was able to establish contact with two of these monadii, who then provided my bona fides to the Queen and returned her reply to me. While I do not know what form of intercourse our two countries can engage, I am hopeful that Nouns and Verbs will find common ground.

I look forward to my next assignment, the Land of Inference. Your most humble servant,

(signed) Reginald, extends Diplomat, implements Plenipotentiary

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