[plt-scheme] Re: Programming for non-programmers

From: Richard Cleis (rcleis at mac.com)
Date: Thu Oct 14 19:07:43 EDT 2004

"...unknown is worse than bad..."

That reminds me of a cynical interpretation of the medical field:  

It is advisable to kill someone using established procedures than it is to attempt to save them with new procedures.

 From my perspective (a big company in a govt lab), the above can be easily modified to describe software development.

On Thursday, October 14, 2004, at 03:55PM, karczma <karczma at info.unicaen.fr> wrote:

>  For list-related administrative tasks:
>  http://list.cs.brown.edu/mailman/listinfo/plt-scheme
>George Demmy writes: 
>> Matthias Felleisen <matthias at ccs.neu.edu> writes:
>>> As everyone has probably noticed by now, there are
>>> two radically different notions of programming at play: 
>>>   Definition 1: systematically design and re-design (factor)
>>>   an application. Typically others use this software, and
>>>   also typically this software is maintained over some time.
>>>   But not always. 
>>>   Definition 2: get the computer to do something for you,
>>>   anything almost (even if it is not quite right). 
>>> And 2 is the winning notion, even if it's wrong. Then
>>> again even though it is wrong for all kinds of reasons,
>>> it has a place.
>> This is a variation of the Worse is Better dialectic: 
>> http://www.dreamsongs.com/WorseIsBetter.html 
>> Richard Gabriel wrestled with these competing philosophies in a series
>> of essays, which may be of some interest to those not familiar with
>> them.
>Messieurs, both of you...
>I come from a particular milieu: physicists, high-energy physicists
>whose computational needs were always enormous. They opted for (1),
>a long time ago. 
>Now, do you think that it contributed to "good is better than bad" or
>Actually, the enormous collaborations and monstrous software projects
>rigidified the souls of my folk, they preferred for years incremental
>bug correction, no escape from Fortran, no true refactoring, in general
>the philosophy "unknown is worse than bad" (hm... a good reference? the
>Hamlet monolog, surely). 
>I think that the problem is more complex than it seems. As always. 
>Jerzy Karczmarczuk 

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