from hell to paradise ; ; ; was: [plt-scheme] Prereqs for robotic programming

From: Jos Koot (jos.koot at
Date: Tue Feb 17 15:57:02 EST 2009

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: YC 
  To: Grant Rettke 
  Cc: PLT List ; Marco Morazan ; Matthias Felleisen 
  Sent: Tuesday, February 17, 2009 8:21 PM
  Subject: Re: from hell to paradise ; ; ; was: [plt-scheme] Prereqs for robotic programming

  On Tue, Feb 17, 2009 at 10:30 AM, Grant Rettke <grettke at> wrote:

    On Tue, Feb 17, 2009 at 9:44 AM, Matthias Felleisen
    <matthias at> wrote:

    > FP has failed to reach out and demonstrate concretely to such people "how _it_ works and is superior to what they have."

    Is that one of the duties of your academic career? Personal philosophy?

    The most popular programming trends today encourage acceptance without
    question and utilization without understanding fueled mostly by highly
    charismatic individuals and/or big corporations. The motto "Thinking
    is not required" sums it up.

  IMHO two non-marketing factors for the success of language platforms in the past decade are 1) vast amount of libraries written in the language to reduce mundane work, and/or 2) the language fills a niche that hasn't yet been addressed.  Many FPs suffer #1.  Erlang appears to have momentum behind them as they tackle multi processing quite well.
It appears to me that, at least in the past, some programmers prefer languages with incomprehensible syntax and many pittfals, because it looks so clever in the eyes of layman.
  Compared to the mainstream; there is little material that shows why
  "FP is so great"; but the material, and more importantly the people,
  are out there; it just requires a highly motivated individual to take
  the effort to find out why.

  Learning FP today is similar to "exercise and floss are good for you", yet for many it's too much to bother.   Their day jobs and lives are hard enough as is.

    That individual is likely to be a fractional percentage of the overall
    community. *That* is the problem.

  But people are motivated toward pleasure and away from pain, so if learning FP is going to cause too much pain, it's going to be a non starter. 

  Paraphrasing Joel Spolsky, you can't find customers if you can't explain what their pains are.  So if we want greater adoptions (and a shelf life after school) then FP must attempt to solve some problems for people in work settings, better than what they are already familiar with.

  Erlang is a good case study on how a company adopts and develop FP when other alternatives failed.


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