Sunday, August 14, 2005


Refresh, renew, refill the Kool-Aid

My wife and I went on a vacation to the mountains of Highlands, NC. The place had no Internet access, so I thought I'd take along "Hackers and Painters" to reread and get re-inspired. I have drunk the Paul Graham Kool-Aid; I got a Mac to have an easy-to-use Unix to work on Lisps, I suggest his essays to friends, yada yada.

What Paul probably got real right - page 56, where he starts talking about web apps taking over most of software. This was before Google showing us the AJAX way.

What Paul may have gotten wrong - page 164, "parallelism will be something that is available if you ask for it explicitly, but ordinarily not used". Lately we've been hearing that we're hitting the limits on a particular core, mulitcore chips are going to be more common and we'll have to write our software for it.

The big open question I came away with was Paul talking about "Good design comes in chunks". He compares 15th century Florence (mentions 10 famous artists from there and then) vs 15th century Milan (mentions 0).

"Nothing is more powerful than a community of talented people working on related problems". Can virtual communities serve this purpose today? I can't move to this era's "15th century Florence", even if I could find it. But would I need to? Do I just need to keep up with Planet Lisp or comp.lang.lisp or Is is something broader, like Ruby On Rails/Trails/Lisp on Lines communities? It would be pretty damn cool if anyone could just surf to "a community of talented people working on related problems". All we need to do is find it, or define it ourselves.

P.S. Paul - If you're reading this, RELEASE ARC ALREADY. Thank you.

I, too, am eagerly awaiting Arc...I hope it fixes all the problems I have with Common Lisp!
I'd give him half points on the web apps thing since he was so against javascript.... Not that his being anti-JS was wrong though, he just didn't predict people like google would use brute force in getting things like Gmail to work cross-platform.
I also agree that we need to create a community of talented people; or many of them. I have tried at "Progressive Engineering"

But so far the community consists of me.

read at
Sorry Arc is taking so long. I've been distracted lately with other things. In the meantime I encourage Lisp hackers to try out other new dialects, like Goo.

I plan to start work on Arc again soon. I felt rather cheesy at Oscon, talking about hacking to all those people when I hadn't written a line of code in 8 months...
I looked at Goo, but there wasn't a sufficient gain in succintness to warrant changing from Common Lisp.

If the Smalltalk-inspired, square-bracket shorthand for lambda is any indication of what's coming, I'm really looking forward to trying Arc out.
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