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Re: TMTOWTDI... and most of them are wrong

by etcshadow (Priest)
on Jun 27, 2005 at 01:16 UTC ( #470120=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to TMTOWTDI... and most of them are wrong

Paul Graham has written some interesting discussion of this problem, though primarily directed at Lisp, not Perl. It's spread through his discussions about the design of arc, but there's one particular article in which he really goes into it. The terminology he uses is: "Languages Designed for Smart People" vs. "Languages Designed for the Masses"... i.e. is this the language you want to use for yourself, or is it a language that you want to force other people to use, because you don't trust them?

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Comment on Re: TMTOWTDI... and most of them are wrong
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Re^2: TMTOWTDI... and most of them are wrong
by perrin (Chancellor) on Jul 01, 2005 at 03:19 UTC
    Note that we have very little evidence that Paul Graham is a decent programmer. His chief accomplishment was selling an e-commerce startup during the Internet gold rush. I'm inclined to take his opinions about what makes a good programming language with a grain of salt.
      I'm curious - what would you consider evidence that someone is or isn't a good programmer? I'd be willing to bet we could find a number of examples of his code somewhere on the Net. Granted, it probably won't be in Perl, but I'd bet the code would be pretty decent.

      Likewise, the same argument could be made for Larry's code. I mean, his biggest accomplishment is almost 20 years old. How much of Perl5.8 or 5.6 did Larry actually write? He's just a designer, right?


      My criteria for good software:
      1. Does it work?
      2. Can someone else come in, make a change, and be reasonably certain no bugs were introduced?
        Larry Wall is famous for writing a series of impressive programs like patch and perl. Paul Graham is famous for selling his company and writing a book. Paul might be a good programmer, but his book didn't have much technical material in it, so I really couldn't say. I don't know Lisp, so I wouldn't be able to tell from his code anyway.

        In general, I feel like the whole "languages for smart people" thing is often hauled out as an excuse for writing obfuscated code that would fail your test 2. Most of us are less smart than we like to think when it comes to programming, and even smart people are often smart in different ways.

      Note that we have very little evidence that Paul Graham is a decent programmer.
      What about his book on advanced lisp techniques? It's pretty much the lispers bible about macro usage. Or how about his ANSI Common Lisp book. Don't those count as considerable contributions?
        Good point. I'd count that as evidence enough then. I'm not sure his team programming strategy (hire a few of your closest friends from college who already use the same style as you) will work for all companies, but it's a good approach when you have the option.
      I'm inclined to take his opinions about what makes a good programming language with a grain of salt.
      Take as much salt as you need. Of course, I'm skeptical that anyone who thinks map is a difficult concept to master would be able to recognize a good language.

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