[r6rs-discuss] Now, where were we?
bh at eecs.berkeley.edu
Sun Feb 22 16:14:51 EST 2009
Mitchell Wand <wand at ccs.neu.edu> says:
> Has case-sensitivity become a metaphor for some aspect of the future
> direction of Scheme? I can see this in some of these posts, but if so, it
> might be helpful to spell out the metaphor in more detail, and to relate it
> to the election at hand.
As others have said in response to this message, I think the answer is yes.
(I think it was I who introduced case sensitivity to the conversation in the
first place, and I've just conceded that point, but am still an unhappy
I very much agree with Bear's remarks about an open process and clear
explanations, but, for me at least, there's something else going on.
It's the point I made before about hacking versus software engineering.
Let me be clear that I don't want to make any claims about anyone else's
state of mind, but /how it seems from here/, looking at the results, is
that R6 was a huge move away from Lisp's roots as the language for
experimentation. How can any Lisper feel that the REPL is just an
afterthought? In retrospect I think this is the technical issue that
/should have been/ the metaphor for the future direction. But the one
about case sensitivity comes from the same roots, maybe. It's about
whether a concern for sharing code with someone far away (not necessarily
far away from some English-speaking country, just far away from oneself,
I hasten to add, lest this be read as Anglocentric) outweighs the freedom
to write in one's own vernacular.
Perhaps this is childish. Indeed, that was my own reaction to Steven Levy's
book _Hackers_, in which he talks about "the hacker ethic"; I argued that
raising Stu Nelson's destruction of Russell Noftsker's screwdriver to a
matter of principle was absurd, even though I liked Stu and hated Russell.
I thought Levy should have said that the AI Lab hackers (among whom I was
a very minor light) had an attitude appropriate to the young, whereas
Noftsker was almost a parodic exaggeration of a grownup. (I am now 59
going on 17. :-)
But, you know, despite the aging of the baby boom, there are still a lot of
adolescents, and they need a programming language, too. It shouldn't have
So, maybe I'm all wet, but this is what I think. R6 represents the final
victory of Russ over Stu, and I still think Stu and his gang contributed
more to the world -- including the fact that Sussman and Steele were more
like Stu than like Russ in their stance toward the world.
Sorry, this is a little incoherent, but I haven't had breakfast yet and I
just waded through a huge accumulated mail backlog from overnight! :-)
P.S. I also hear echos of Stu's voice in SICP, and of Russ's in HtDP,
and I suspect that's relevant to the Future of Scheme also.
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