Message from discussion I don't understand Lisp
From: trash...@david-steuber.com (David Steuber "The Interloper")
Subject: Re: I don't understand Lisp
References: <email@example.com> <firstname.lastname@example.org> <email@example.com> <firstname.lastname@example.org> <email@example.com> <firstname.lastname@example.org> <email@example.com> <firstname.lastname@example.org> <email@example.com> <firstname.lastname@example.org> <email@example.com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
Organization: David's Diversions @ www.david-steuber.com
On Fri, 06 Nov 1998 13:35:17 -0500, raff...@mediaone.net (Raffael
Cavallaro) claimed or asked:
% I suspect that unless the Lisp vendors move in the direction I've
% suggested, they will soon be out of business (or all but one will soon be
% out of business). Time will tell if I'm completely out of line here or
I don't think the Lisp vendors have the power to make Lisp more
popular. There are several things working against Lisp, IMHO.
1) Parenthesis. The Lisp syntax looks really strange and intimidating
to many people. I think most of these people are not willing to look
2) C++. This language got a huge mindshare. Everyone thought it was
the silver bullet that would make the design of large, complex systems
manageable by anyone.
3) VB. You don't even have to know how to program to do things in
this language. When you do know how to program, you can create some
pretty neat stuff that will run in windows.
4) Java. For some reason, toy applets in web pages made this language
a huge success. At the moment, Java is mostly gas. However, it has a
bandwagon, so everyone is jumping on it.
5) AI. For some reason, AI seems to be the only field where the use
of Lisp is promoted. Graham's "ANSI Common Lisp" is part of a series
on AI programming. Maybe it is heretical that I am planing to use
Lisp for a non AI application.
The impression I get is that the Lisp community is very small and not
growing. Not enough people are evangelizing the language. It is not
enough to say Lisp can do this or that. High profile programs have to
be written in Lisp. They also have to be paragons of good
applications. It should also be clear that they were written in Lisp.
Without them, Lisp is some obscure language that white coats use.
And, no, Emacs is not enough.
Lisp will only be taken seriously when a large number of programmers
see how powerful it is. I think that the larger part of the
programmer community has been stupefied by Microsoft. They wouldn't
consider Lisp unless Microsoft came out with their own flavor. I'm
sure Microsoft would ruin it.
In the end, it is the _users_ of Lisp who are responsible for its
future. The vendors will deliver what the users ask for, so long as
they get paid. If the free Lisps are in any way inferior to the
commercial Lisps, it is because they don't have enough users
If you want the number of Lisp users to increase proportionately
faster than users of other languages, it is necessary to teach people
Lisp in high school and college. Show them the power of Lisp so that
when they look at other languages, they feel stifled. Teach them good
Lisp programming techniques so that they become good programmers.
People are not really getting dumber. It is possible to teach people
how to analyze problems. Teach the analysis from a Lisp perspective
and that will be the language they will want to think in. They will
then find other languages inadequate to the task. That is unless Lisp
is really not all it is cracked up to be.
Another thing to do is to contribute code to Lisp archives. Look at
Perl with its CPAN. Perl is a language that is not driven by any
corporate entity. There isn't even a standard for it so far as I
know. It is driven by the user community. Lisp needs the same
support. If it doesn't get it, then natural selection will kill it.
I am only one person. I will do what I can do. The CMUCL maintainers
are a small group. I think they are doing a bang up job. Follow
their example. Whining won't help. If you aren't putting anything
back in the form of code or cash, then you aren't really helping.
Well, the exception to that rule would be releasing applications that
use Lisp and say so.
Mindshare is everything.
David Steuber (ver 1.31.2a)
To reply by e-mail, replace trashcan with david.
"Ignore reality there's nothing you can do about it..."
-- Natalie Imbruglia "Don't you think?"