Subject: Re: OS wars and Lisp
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 1998/12/16
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* (David Steuber "The Interloper")
| One thing I am sure of is that it will take people a lot smarter than I
| am to solve this issue.  They will have to find ways to overcome the bad
| rap that Lisp has among the masses.  The only thing I can think of that
| can push Lisp back into the mainstream is for mainstream programs to be
| written in it.  Keeping Lisp in the closet is not the way to make it
| popular.

  my advice is: simply ignore everybody who thinks Lisp has bad rap.
  popularity is the hall-mark of mediocrity.  what needs to be done is
  simply to make good things and let interested people know and come see.
  this is completely unrelated to masses, mainstreams, or closets, and it
  has the disquieting quality that it doesn't have room for more pondering
  or hesitation or procrastination.  it also has the unwelcome property
  that it is possible to measure the success of the approach by how many
  people come see.

  here's something I have done.  I designed a new protocol for my client,
  and held a presentation for a group of top-notch programmers from our
  customers.  the protocol syntax is Common Lisp.  nobody complained about
  parentheses, backslashes, the position of the colon in keywords, the
  semicolons used as the mark of a non-data response line, lists with the
  command as the first element, uppercase symbol names -- _none_ of the
  regular complaints.  after a couple hours, all of them were excited about
  what we could do with this new protocol, and a few good suggestions came
  in during lunch and when we were shaking hands to leave.  it wasn't until
  some time afterwards that I came to realize that _none_ of the complaints
  we are _supposed_ to hear about Lisp were raised.  I didn't expect them,
  didn't invite them, and just explained what I had done, so maybe these
  complaints don't _exist_ unless you invite them.

  there's a new programmer in my office (I work mostly from home).  he had
  a bunch of really odd questions about Common Lisp, which we agreed came
  from his complete unfamiliarity with the language.  I showed him some
  code, explained how I had done a few simple things, and he started to
  talk about textbooks and how it looked like something he would want to
  learn, and how he had suffered from C++ blindness.  that took 10 minutes,
  and I was already exhausted from working all night to get a working demo
  for the presentation and from talking for four hours straight.

  I _really_ don't think people think Lisp is bad unless _you_ appear to be
  apologetic to begin with.  just do good work, and people listen no matter
  what they thought to begin with.

  no excuses.  no apologies.  just do it.

  man who cooks while hacking eats food that has died twice.