Subject: Re: "Well, I want to switch over to replace EMACS LISP with Guile."
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 27 Sep 2002 19:35:55 +0000
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Christopher Browne
| It's presumably some aspect of the "we despise Scheme" thing..

  It is some aspect of the "let's discard all the community effort and start
  over from scratch because we're smarter than everybody else" thing.

  Each and every time someone in the Computer Science field has a Bright Idea,
  the world had better be prepared to adapt, because Here Comes Genius and
  everything everybody has done needs to be done differently from now on,
  because This Genius Knows Best.

  Gratuitous re-invention is very appealing to some people.  It means that they
  do not have to cope with anybody else's ideas.  They may hope to garner
  support behind them, but they sure are not going to be behind anybody else.

  I have desired /longevity/ of things for as long back as I can remember.  I
  got involved with SGML because I thought it could help our data survive
  beyond the application.  (That was a mistake, of course.  XML hit the fan and
  now you cannot trust XML data any more than you trust binary files.)  I have
  been a strong fan of the 125-year-old Dewey Decimal Classification ever since
  I learned it as a child from our school librarian.  Such a large system that
  has been both able to adapt and provide for long-range stability is no small
  feat.  I prefer a society based in the rule of law to groups of eager people
  with bright ideas who ignore everything that has gone before them.  It is not
  only that I want some stability and predictability, I want to make sure that
  we actually evolve.  Computer Science is a field that shows some danger signs
  of not evolving.  Each and every Bright Idea is a revolution, and the primary
  purpose of a revolusion is to throw away everything everybody had done up to
  some point in time.  Revolutions sometimes do work, but their cost in human
  terms is /enormous/.  Time and again we see that that which moves slowly from
  here to there win and that which tries to make it across the incompatibility
  abyss in one leap usually fall into it, instead.

  The Novice has been the focus of an alarming amount of attention in the
  computer field.  It is not just that the preferred user is unskilled, it is
  that the whole field in its application rewards novices and punishes experts.
  What you learn today will be useless a few years hence, so why bother to
  study and know /anything/ well?  I think this is the main reason for the IT
  winter we are now experiencing.

  Of course, Scheme was /also/ a "let's have a revolution and make it better
  this time" language, and as such is attractive to revolutionaries.

Erik Naggum, Oslo, Norway

Act from reason, and failure makes you rethink and study harder.
Act from faith, and failure makes you blame someone and push harder.