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Re: On Golf

by clemburg (Curate)
on May 21, 2001 at 15:13 UTC ( #81945=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to On Golf

From this observation we must conclude that this language as a tool is an open invitation for clever tricks; and while exactly this may be the explanation for some of its appeal, viz., to those who like to show how clever they are, I am sorry, but I must regard this as one of the most damning things that can be said about a programming language.

This is wrong. What we must conclude is that there seems to be some incentive for programmers to write one-liners, and that the language under discussion offers opportunities to write those.

Now, to damn the programming language for the sins of its users is at least questionable. Whatever gives you freedom obviously gives you the opportunity to abuse this freedom.

And besides that, I think the author is mistaking a fun-and-games style sports event for real work here. He should also oppose the makers of sports equipment, on the grounds that they offer an open invitation to waste your time instead of doing real work.

"Liber ludens manere" ("Stay a playing child") was my motto back in school, and I still think it is a fitting one for a programmer. To conclude with a quote from a similarly prestigious person like Dijkstra:

I think that it's extraordinarily important that we in computer science keep fun in computing. When it started out, it was an awful lot of fun. Of course, the paying customer got shafted every now and then, and after a while we began to take their complaints seriously. We began to feel as if we really were responsible for the successful, error-free perfect use of these machines. I don't think we are. I think we're responsible for stretching them, setting them off in new directions, and keeping fun in the house. I hope the field of computer science never loses its sense of fun. Above all, I hope we don't become missionaries. Don't feel as if you're Bible salesmen. The world has too many of those already. What you know about computing other people will learn. Don't feel as if the key to successful computing is only in your hands. What's in your hands, I think and hope, is intelligence: the ability to see the machine as more than when you were first led up to it, that you can make it more. -- Alan Perlis, quoted from SICP, 2nd Ed.

Christian Lemburg
Brainbench MVP for Perl

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