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Re: Cool and Useful LISP for the .emacs file


From: Burton Samograd
Subject: Re: Cool and Useful LISP for the .emacs file
Date: Mon, 10 Nov 2003 21:00:03 GMT
User-agent: Gnus/5.1002 (Gnus v5.10.2) Emacs/21.3 (gnu/linux)

Stefan Monnier <address@hidden> writes:

>> My point was that the rut occupied by C, python, perl, etc is wide and
>> shallow compared to the rather narrow and deep rut occupied by lisp.
>
> Seeing how much trouble you seem to have getting from your C rut to
> elisp's, I have a hard time understanding why you consider the C rut as
> being wide and shallow.
>
> I still haven't heard from a Lisp hacker who found it difficult to switch to
> C or Java (painful, yes of course, but not difficult, except maybe for manual
> memory management), so I'd say that Lisp's rut is rather shallow indeed.

>From my experience, switching to lisp is a bit more work than the
other way around, due to the type of people that helped shape lisp in
the first place.  C and UNIX were developed around the "worse is
better" type philosophy, where LISPy systems were more focused on the
consistent and perfect side.  Each philosophy has it's advantages, but
the perfect side has the drawback of having to learn idiosyncratic
perfections, rather than diving in and just doing something.  Current
operating systems have evolved from the experience and knowledge of
UNIX systems, where Common Lisp evolved from the now defunct LISP
machines of the 80's.  Emacs seems one of the last bastions of LISP
being found in production work (there are exceptions, but they aren't
heard of them that much anymore), and even still it's not part of the
production process and lies in the users own desire and drive to
learn, which requires un-learning many things before the power and
beauty of lisp can be fully realized.

For the ones that want to attack the LISP learning curve there are
plenty of resources available from the existing LISP community, but
don't expect much help if you dive in and start telling them thier
language should be changed because you "don't get it".  LISP is great
and LISP is fun, but it's still a programming language, but much more
akin to a sketchbook than a paintroller.  Sketching is quite fun, but
with lisp the finalization of programs (such as for relesase) can be
obscure and won't be found with much research, guidance and the
ability to accept things how they are, at least for the time being.

My 2cents based on my research, 

-- 
burton samograd
http://kruhftwerk.dyndns.org


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