Re: [dev] Interesting post about X11

From: Ethan Grammatikidis <>
Date: Wed, 23 Jun 2010 23:08:53 +0100

On 23 Jun 2010, at 00:46, Aled Gest wrote:
> I've yet to see evidence of that in Scheme's case. If you can provide
> links to practical examples, of tools that are cleanly and efficiently
> written in Scheme, that aren't purely academic in purpose, and don't
> come with 30 pages of waffle about how great Scheme is, I'd be happy
> to take a look.

The existence of all that hot air is a great shame. It puts me off
too, and I'm someone who feels different (languages|operating systems|
paradigms|whatever) are worth investigating by default. The funny flip
side to that is, when I'm promoting something unusual (for whatever
values of "unusual"), I find it terribly difficult not to waste hours
of my time writing pages of waffle in the hope of being convincing.
Yeah, you've seen the results, and I'm rather glad one of my recent
posts was rejected by the mailer.

This situation with lisp/scheme seems parallel my experiences with
Plan 9. For years I hung around #plan9 on freenode, off and on, poking
around with Plan 9 in a VM, trying to get a little help to wrap my
head around it (as if "a little help" would work) and, I guess, trying
to get people to convince me it was worth it. I persisted because I
had a vague but strong feeling there was something worthwhile there.
Eventually it all came together for me and OH YEAH it's good!

I have a similar feeling that there is something good in Lisp. It's an
even more nebulous feeling and I've had it for much longer. Will the
benefits of getting to grips with Lisp be correspondingly greater? The
thought almost scares me.

Enough about me, here's something I just read in SICP:

        Pascal is for building pyramids -- imposing, breathtaking,
        static structures built by armies pushing heavy blocks into
        place. Lisp is for building organisms -- imposing,
        breathtaking, dynamic structures built by squads fitting
        fluctuating myriads of simpler organisms into place.

That seems a little rich, but it reminds me of something very similar
on Paul Graham's website, a statement in much less dramatic language
but which made me think. I forget the exact words, but Lisp was
described as being well-suited to projects which a small team of
programmers manage, evolve, develop to fit changing needs over a very
long period of time. A particular point was made of Lisp being a good
language for situations where the ultimate goals of a project are not
clear at the start.

I'll leave you to add a + b on why there are no big (pyramid-like)
examples of the greatness of Scheme or Lisp. I feel a ghost of a
realisation about the development of software trying to express itself
in my mind. It may turn out to be nothing, but... I have a hunch this
could be big, if expressed properly.

Do not specify what the computer should do for you, ask what the  
computer can do for you.
Received on Wed Jun 23 2010 - 22:08:53 UTC

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