Subject: Re: I don't understand Lisp
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 1998/11/07
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* (David Steuber "The Interloper")
| The impression I get is that the Lisp community is very small and not
| growing.

  my impression is that is dispersed, and like water in its gas stage all
  around us, the individual molecules don't precipitate enough even to form
  a visible mist, but it's there for anyone to see if they want to.

| Not enough people are evangelizing the language.

  well, once there were much too many, and that led to what several people
  refer to as the "AI Winter".  languages flare up and die with too much
  evangelization and hype.  I don't want Lisp to flare up because I know
  that will kill it.  what the world needs least of all is for all the
  amazingly incompetent people who make up the giant market for Microsofts
  languages and products to start using Common Lisp.  if that is in danger
  of happening, I want somebody to rename it Elite Lisp so as not to
  confuse anybody.
| It is not enough to say Lisp can do this or that.  High profile programs
| have to be written in Lisp.

  I succeeded in bringing Common Lisp to a client who needed very high
  uptime and who could not get it with the existing C-based system.  this
  is _not_ a high profile project.  it is still a success, both for me and
  for them.

| Lisp will only be taken seriously when a large number of programmers
| see how powerful it is.

  it is already taken seriously -- by some, and they are a relevant number
  of people, despite your implication.  to imply that Lisp is not taken
  seriously, as you do, is a huge disservice to the community and works
  against your own goals.  don't be stupid -- don't understate your case.

| I think that the larger part of the programmer community has been
| stupefied by Microsoft.  They wouldn't consider Lisp unless Microsoft
| came out with their own flavor.  I'm sure Microsoft would ruin it.

  Microsoft isn't everything, and they'll be history shortly, anyway.

| In the end, it is the _users_ of Lisp who are responsible for its future.

  yeah, and what helps is to buy yet another commercial license, not fight
  the vendors with yet another inferior-but-getting-better free version.

| The vendors will deliver what the users ask for, so long as they get
| paid.  If the free Lisps are in any way inferior to the commercial Lisps,
| it is because they don't have enough users contributing improvements.

  trivially, yes, but that is not the causal link you would want to work
  on.  the free Lisps are inferior because it takes tremendous effort to
  create truly high quality software, and you don't get people to do that
  day in and day out without serious compensation _and_ motivation.

| Another thing to do is to contribute code to Lisp archives.

  well, actually, what is needed is a desire to use other people's code
  instead of writing your own.

| Look at Perl with its CPAN.  Perl is a language that is not driven by any
| corporate entity.  There isn't even a standard for it so far as I know.
| It is driven by the user community.  Lisp needs the same support.

| If it doesn't get it, then natural selection will kill it.

  so according to yet another misplaced application of the theory of
  evolution, Lisp should already have died.  if living, breathing systems
  do not convince you that Lisp is alive, what would it take to make you
  stop stating the greate exaggerated rumors of its death?

| Mindshare is everything.

  in my view, it matters more what is shared than sharing it.  for some odd
  reason that I cannot quite fathom, the people who whine about the future
  of Lisp think its dead, and the people who keep it alive _don't_ whine
  about its future at all.  can we please have the whiners stop sharing?

  The Microsoft Dating Program -- where do you want to crash tonight?