[racket] The value of a language

From: Nick Shelley (nickmshelley at gmail.com)
Date: Wed May 9 17:50:46 EDT 2012

This sounds a lot like Paul Graham's "Blub Paradox" from

My experience with Racket is that I initially hated it because I didn't
understand it, but now that I'm past that pettiness I use Racket whenever I
have a choice. However, I'm certain I don't use the full power of Racket,
again because of my lack of knowledge and understanding. I think the main
problem is that since I don't fully understand the features of the language
I end up "writing Fortran programs in every language."

What I think would be helpful for me (and would probably be a good
marketing tool as well) is if there was a list (maybe on a wiki or
something) of real problems that were solved using certain features and why
those features were necessary. A great example of this is chapter 15 of
PLAI titled "Some Problems with Web Programs." It outlines a real-world
problem and explains how continuations can be used to solve that problem.

The problem is that everyone thinks they can do anything they want with the
language they're most comfortable with, and until they see there are real
problems they can't solve, they won't be interested in learning and
"getting real work done." (And when I say real problems, I don't mean using
laziness to generate an infinite list, I mean using a lazy infinite list in
some useful context other than for the neat factor.)

Just some thoughts.

On Wed, May 9, 2012 at 3:25 PM, Robby Findler
<robby at eecs.northwestern.edu>wrote:

> My own opinion of this is that people who think that know few,
> similar-looking languages (or, perhaps they write Fortran programs in every
> language :).
> Of course, this statement I agree with wholeheartedly when you think of
> Racket, as the idea of a 'library' is closer to what you'd think of as
> separate languages in other contexts, but somehow I doubt that's what they
> had in mind!
> Robby
> On Wednesday, May 9, 2012, Grant Rettke wrote:
>> Hi,
>> Hope this is on topic, if it is not a substantive contribution I
>> apologize.
>> I just want to share a conversation from work. Bunch of experienced
>> developers who are all very thoughtful reached the conclusion that the
>> most important thing in a language choice is the APIs that come with
>> it. Basically talking through it, that is the thing that speeds up
>> work, and people can basically "think in any language they like" and
>> then "mentally compile it down" to whatever is the implementation
>> language. I generally agree in a corporate environment because you do
>> want save your customers time and therefore money and I have never
>> tried a non-mainstream language there such that I had real evidence
>> there is a more productive way to do things.
>> This was the same day that I finally read about syntax/parse and was
>> thinking about how much nicer it would be to use that than the
>> plumbing work I had to do to get nice error reporting, so perhaps I
>> was more struck with their observation. It was just funny to hear
>> everybody keep saying "the language doesn't matter" because it is so
>> different than how I think, and how I think other lispers think, and
>> even PLT people in general.
>> I thought this was a funny coincidence because I wanted to talk about
>> how great syntax/parse, and well I did talk to my one buddy about it
>> :).
>> Best wishes,
>> Grant
>> --
>> http://www.wisdomandwonder.com/
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