Subject: Re: Harlequin vs. Allegro
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 1998/06/25
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Zeno the Anonymous Poster
| I assume this is because it is better to help the underdog.  

  I think this line pretty much sums up your whole line of inquiry, here.

  so, why did I hammer on your Microsoft affiliation?  I doubt that I could
  have gotten you to express the above sentiment in so many words unless I
  had hammered real hard on it.  I have been doing custom software since
  1980 (starting my own business in 1987), and I have _never_ worked under
  the Microsoft regime, but I have had ample opportunity to watch it from
  the outside and see projects to which I was invited crumble or fail, and
  I have watched people blame _everybody_ but the people really to blame:
  Microsoft, for their sheer lack of quality products and responsibility
  towards their customers.  their customers have _always_ believed that
  they have been to blame if something failed to work right, and the lies
  that Bill Gates personally have served his every partner have likewise
  been attributed to his "smartness" and others have just been stupid to
  believe him.  I saw this pattern _very_ early on, and _that_ is why I
  want nothing of their ilk or fandom, and I have acquired an eerie skill
  in predicting the few categories Microsoft users can be in.  my distinct
  impression is that managers who insist on Microsoft products don't want
  to _succeed_, they just want to avoid failing in a world they don't
  understand, and as long as Microsoft stays afloat, they think they will
  stay afloat, too.  funny as it may seem, fin-de-siècle syndromes make
  managers act weird, too.  the Year 2000 problem is little more than the
  age-old myth that the end of world coincides with new centuries, and my
  guess there are still so many managers who haven't reacted in time is
  that they don't actually believe there will be any life on planet earth
  in new millennium, anyway, so why waste all the money?  think about it.

  however, I must admit that you surprised me a bit today, and that's quite
  a feat for a hardened cynic like myself.  I didn't know it was _possible_
  for anybody to be so arrogant and so stupid at the same time as to
  express the above sentiment towards a "competing" product or solution,
  and so utterly lacking in understanding of basic economics.  sorry to be
  harsh, but you need to snap out of your dream and _listen_, not just to
  the stuff you are prepared to listen to, but to the underlying arguments.

  when you pay for something, there is a tacit assumption that you somehow
  value whatever you pay for higher than the money you part with, and an
  explicit assumption that whoever parts with the goods values your money
  higher than the goods he parts with.  the explicit assumption is well
  known and nobody argues its validity.  the tacit assumption is what makes
  the price he charges possible in his market, and the science of marketing
  and market management is founded in psychology so murky that you would
  prefer it to be unknown to you as a customer, but you _need_ to know.
  these tacit assumption need to be made explicit in order to change the
  direction and focus of a market, and that's where Microsoft's marketing
  is at its very best: they address your belief system, not their own
  products.  this is especially important for people who don't realize that
  these assumptions are there to begin with, and that includes you, "Zeno".

  a few people, yours truly among them, argue in various fora that kids
  should be exposed to psychology from kindergarten up to withstand the
  mind-wiping techniques of twenty-first century marketing, and although
  this sounds paranoid to people who know nothing about marketing, those
  who do and who know how the mass media work have been trying to alert the
  sleeping masses for many decades.  I'm trying to alert you now.  it will
  fail with a 98% probability (a statistical fact), because your belief
  system is so constructed as to block any suggestion that those beliefs
  are manufactured by others and not your own.  the consensus among your
  peers, upon which you base your judgments, is not your own, it has been
  deliberately manufactured by those who benefit from it, from politicans
  to businesses via religious leaders and news anchors.  however, it is
  _not_ a conspiracy, it is _not_ an evil plot to subdue the masses (as if
  they weren't to begin with!), and it is _not_ a take-over plot by aliens
  visiting earth, so listen up.  this is the _natural_ development of mass
  media at work in huge societies, and it could not have become otherwise;
  the only way _not_ to get where we are would have been to destroy the
  onset of mass communication, which would never have been tolerated by the
  same masses that are controlled by it today, in exactly the same way that
  tobacco and the automobile would have been prohibited immediately had
  they been proposed today, together with their attendant costs and loss of
  human lives, but cannot be removed from society today.

  the tacit assumption at work in your world is that a development system
  has a _fixed_ upper limit to its value to developers and that leads to
  the sentiment that you are willing to pay anything _below_ that upper
  limit, but that you would not feel you would get your money's worth if
  you paid more -- you would, in your own judgment, be better off keeping
  your money and being without that development environment.  put even more
  strongly, albeit less certain, a development system has a fixed _value_
  in your judgment: you know what you can get out of the development
  environment you use today, and you cannot imagine, nor will you listen to
  testimonials, that it is possible to be an order of magnitude more
  productive in another, nor will you consider slightly different modes of
  operation that would make your development environment look like the
  cheap plastic toy it is to many other people.  the result of your tacit
  assumptions is that it would not be possible to sell you anything more
  _valuable_ than your current development environment.  thus you see the
  world as fundamentally limited, and to you, it _would_ be helping some
  underdog who overcharges for his products, not because they do, but
  because _you_ are unable to see the extra value they charge for, and
  which _others_ accept as worth more than the money they part with.

  the key question when it comes to your Microsoft affiliation, if not
  marriage, is that you have "let" Microsoft implant in you the upper value
  of the goods that its _competitors_ could sell you, but not the price of
  their own products.  the _problem_ is that you have not _let_ this happen
  to you in any conscious way, of course -- it has been shaped by the
  extremely talented and equally manipulative people at Microsoft who have
  successfully set the entire agenda for the PC industry trade rags and
  (almost) all of their journalists.  in particular, the history of the
  quite fantastic marketing of the vaporware "Windows" product is worth
  studying for decades to come.  how _could_ a fraudulent little fart in
  Seattle manage to con the whole software world into believing he would
  release a product and then not do it, over and over and over?  why did
  _anyone_ believe him?

  to the people who are aware of the assumptions that are tacit among the
  sleeping masses, it is no wonder at all that Microsoft succeeds: Bill
  Gates is very good at playing the right lullabies at the right time so
  people who wake up and smell the coffee (a blistering asphalt by now),
  they are calmed down and go back to sleep for another marketing cycle.
  those who are unable to understand or appreciate the dire consequences of
  tacit assumptions that go completely unchallenged, appear to the sleeping
  masses as if they are on cocaine or paranoid or think they are sleepless
  over Seattle.  Microsoft is so good at turning off the alarm clock that
  it has become impossible to be concerned about their business ethics
  without being associated with something the tacit assumptions elsewhere
  say is "impossible" or "impractical" or "insane", like high quality
  software, communism, or anti-innovation.

| One of my concerns was with the price of Lisp development compared to VB.

  precisely, and you are not at all concerned with its _value_ to you,
  because the tacit assumption in your world is that you _know_ the value
  of any and all development environments, you _know_ all it takes to use
  one productively, you _know_ how much you can squeeze out of it, and you
  know _exactly_ what you want out of it, too.  those tacit assumptions are
  so tacit as to be engraved on your MS Vertebra 8.0.  nothing could change
  your ways, your means of doing business, or your customer base.  that you
  and millions of other developers think this way is how Microsoft benefits
  tremendously from your solidifying your tacit assumptions by being an
  arrogant tourist in Common Lisp-land.  when Microsoft says "jump", you
  rush to compute the optimal height and go for it.  when Microsoft falls,
  you fall.  then, when Microsoft doesn't get up, you will _not_ blame Bill
  Gates for it like you should but never did in the past, either, you will
  _not_ blame yourself for being so unfuckingbelievably gullible as to buy
  his crap and let your own mind turn to mush with their tacit assumptions.
  but you _will_ retain all the tacit assumptions that brought you down
  intact and you _will_ blame the Department of Justice for "meddling" with
  "internal affairs" and you _will_ continue to think that everybody who
  doesn't like Microsoft's business practices must also _hate_ them and at
  least be _somewhat_ irrational, if not completely gaga.  however, _I_
  have seen people go nuts over the fact that I refuse to work under the
  Microsoft regime and effectively boycott them (although it never gets to
  that in practice), as if the fact that I _dare_ to confront them puts
  their own belief system in jeopardy and they need to defend themselves
  from the living proof that you _don't_ die instantly if you don't believe
  in Bill Gates' rhetoric, which it seems is what they actually fear.

  _such_ is the set of tacit assumptions that defines the upper limit to
  the price of a development system in your world, and _this_ is why you
  are not going to become a Franz Inc customer, nor a Common Lisp user, nor
  _ever_ understand why some people think Franz Inc's pricing policy for
  the Microsoft world is _dangerously low_.  you see, to some people,
  charging 40% less for a lot more software to people who have already
  bought into the tacit assumptions emanating from Seattle is caving in to
  the price spiral and the "nah, it cannot _possibly_ be worth that much
  money"-attitude that you have so well exposed to us.  does the Lisp world
  _need_ people who only consider the price and not value-for-money?  no.
  does the Lisp world _need_ to become ephemeralized the way the Microsoft
  world is, where nothing ever lasts till next year?  no.  a product that
  bears a publication date of May 1996 is _not_ out of date in the Lisp
  world -- but it would be ancient history to Microsoftians because their
  world doesn't really exist except as figments of marketing, and you can't
  repeat a marketing lie just any number of times, it _has_ to be upgraded,
  or you will stop believing it, you will see your tacit assumptions and
  you will question Microsoft, lose your belief system, and die instantly.

  finally, the reason I'm valuable to my clients and the reason I can do
  all the fun stuff I do is that I'm not afraid to challenge _any_ tacit
  assumption or to seek answers to the questions people don't want me or
  anybody else to ask, neither of themselves nor of their peers.  only that
  way can I figure out what people _really_ think and want (and do), and
  most of the time, it comes down to much less expensive systems and
  solutions than they were brought up by the big consulting firms and
  Microsoft to believe it would cost.  the tacit assumption I sometimes
  find it hard to overcome is "nah, it cannot _possibly_ be accomplished
  with that little money or that few people", but this can sometimes be
  fixed just by charging more money for it...

-- is about my spam protection scheme and how
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