After the sixth drop in 40 minutes, I looked back up the river, and reflected. I was colder than I'd ever been. I hadn't eaten in six hours. My head and back hurt, and I was afraid—in short, pure bliss. Despite the painfully long hikes with a boat cutting into my shoulder, and the fear of facing a wall of water barely covering rocks that have maimed or even killed before, and the ubiquitous smell of wet neoprene every evening, I can't get enough. Kayaking delivers me to places that nothing else can reach. The immediate feedback tells me exactly how I'm doing. Others can't do it for me, but others can tell me how to do it for myself. And the feeling of conquering a tiny piece of river is incredible.
Java was once like that for me. I get enormous productivity jolts out of Java's incredible community, and countless open source projects. The open standards and the JVM mean that my knowledge, and my applications, can move from place to place. Java's been tremendously successful. You've seen my views about why it was popular. If you're to understand what might possibly come after Java, you need to ask questions about Java's continued success:
What makes Java hip, and draw such a wide variety of people?
How has the open source community thrived, in times, despite Sun and the power vendors?
What are the indispensable technical underpinnings that make Java successful?
What makes Java so adaptable that programmers can build everything from web sites to databases?