Subject: Re: Why lisp failed in the marketplace
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 1997/02/16
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp,comp.lang.scheme
Message-ID: <>

* Will Hartung
| It is sad that in a time when the general purpose machines available to
| Joe Sixpack have anough oomph and resources to truly take advantage of a
| full blown, in your face, Lisp Machine-esque envrironment, that the
| bandwagon is so stuffed full of snake oil salesman, that the jewels are
| difficult to find.  And what's worse, most folks aren't willing to seek
| them out.

what makes _me_ sad is the focus on "most folks" and "Joe Sixpack".

why are we even _thinking_ about home computer equipment when we wish to
attract professional programmers?

in _every_ field I know, the difference between the professional and the
mass market is so large that Joe Blow wouldn't believe the two could
coexist.  more often than not, you can't even get the professional quality
unless you sign a major agreement with the vendor -- such is the investment
on both sides of the table.  the commitment for over-the-counter sales to
some anonymous customer is _negligible_.  consumers are protected by laws
because of this, while professionals are protected by signed agreements
they are expected to understand.  the software industry should surely be no
different.  (except, of course, that software consumers are denied every
consumer right they have had recognized in any other field.)

Microsoft and its ilk has done a marvelous job at marketing their software
in the mass market so that non-professional programmers pick them up and
non-programmers who decide where the money should be wasted will get a warm
fuzzy feeling from certain brand names.  I mean, they _must_ recognize that
nothing else they buy for their company is advertised in the newspapers
that morning and they aren't swayed by consumer ads when they buy office or
plant equipment, are they?  so _why_ do they swallow this nonsense from the
mass-marketing guys hook, line, and sinker?

they don't make poles long enough for me want to touch Microsoft products,
and I don't want any mass-marketed game-playing device or Windows appliance
_near_ my desk or on my network.  this is my _workbench_, dammit, it's not
a pretty box to impress people with graphics and sounds.  when I work at
this system up to 12 hours a day, I'm profoundly uninterested in what user
interface a novice user would prefer.

I'm reminded of the response to how people of little or no imagination were
complaining about science fiction and incredibly expensive space programs:
"the meek can _have_ the earth -- we have other plans".

no, this is not elitist, like some would like to believe in order to avoid
thinking about the issues.  this is just calling attention to the line
between amateurs and professionals, between consumers and producers, that
is already there in _every_ field.  I want people to wake up to this
difference and _reject_ the consumer ads when they look for professional
tools.  if it's marketed to tens of millions of people, it is _not_ for the
professional programmer, and not for you.  if its main selling point is
novice-friendliness, ignore it unless you _are_ a novice.  (and if you are
a novice trying to sell your services in a professional market, get the
hell out of the way.)

my other car is a cdr