Web-Lisp? Oh no!

Cyber Surfer cyber_surfer@wildcard.demon.co.uk
Thu, 01 May 1997 09:01:32 +0100

At 06:10 30/04/97, you wrote:
>-*- Soapbox: On; Flame: Medium-Rare -*-

Asbestos suits for everyone! <g>

>    Date: Wed, 30 Apr 1997 02:26 CDT
>    From: Fare Rideau <rideau@ens.fr>
>    The web is a bad joke at both a document specification and
>    a document retrieval system (sure better than nothing, though,
>    much like a free Unix is better than no free OS).
>Which brings up something I've been fantasizing about: we need to
>replace HTTP/HTML.  Is anyone interested in devloping a document
>specification and transport system that isn't based on some unix
>weenie's diseased nightmare?  And hopefully one that could be
>"plugged-in" to Internet Exploder/Netscrape so the toothless masses can
>adapt easily, and therefore give it a REAL chance to take over the WWW?

If you dump HTTP/HTML, you'll only alienate yourself. There's too
much market pressure IMHO for that to work without committing
massive resources - which we don't have. Even MS might have
some difficulty doing this, and it looks to me like they're trying.

If they can't do it, are we in a position to do better? This isn't about
"Lisp vs C++", it's about "us vs everyone else". I think that we're
out-gunned on _that_ front. It could easily be a waste of our precious
resources. Can we afford that? Hmm.

>The WWW is a neat idea.  Java/HTML/HTTP are a set of festering blisters
>on top of a neat idea.  Exploder/Netscrape are maggots feeding on a neat
>idea.  We need to have a WWW browser that can run on Joe PC (not
>necessarily under SILK) that wins.

That sounds like a job for JVM, ActiveX, UVM, etc. After reading BH's
posting about Sun's latest move, I wonder...no, I don't think that we
want to compile Lisp to Tcl! Yuk. Did somebody mention maggots?

>If we fight the battle on ALL fronts, we might actually change the
>course of the computer industry.

Do we have the resources for all those fronts, esp when the guns
of the opposition are so powerful? Unfortunately, public perception
is critical, i.e. marketing. MS, Sun, Netscape, etc all have BIG GUNS
with a very high profile. Their code already runs on a lot of machines.

What could we offer all those existing users? It had better be something
pretty damn tasty, or they won't bite. I'm not suggesting that this couldn't
be done, but we'd better take care and be realistic. Pick a front where
we have a hope of winning a battle, and then move on to a new front.
Eventually we could tackle all the fronts, but surely not yet! Our position
just isn't strong enough IMHO.

>    But again, if we focus on good code and clean design instead of
>    then we shall overcome.
>I think you are wrong.  Moreover, I think Symbolics, Thinking Machines,
>and Xerox -prove- you are wrong.  Good code and clean design, despite the
>best wishes of you and me and millions of other people, simply does -not-
>seem to be enough.

Agreed - as you might have guessed from my above comments.

>As much as I hate the twisted world of marketing, I think it is a game
>we have to play in order to win in the Industry.

Alas. The tough question is how to we proceed? I think that's what
we've all been asking ourselves, here on this list. There are technical
issues, but the matter of the general direction we take is as much
a marketing issue as a purely technical one. Are we creating a LispOS
just for ourselves, or do we want a commercial product, one that will
perhaps convince the world that Lisp Means Business (and not just
for vertical markets, either).

Why else are so many of us wondering about web browsers and servers?
These are useful tools, but they're also the current _hot apps_. That could
make any Lisp software for the web a powerful marketing tool working for
us, instead of against us. That still leaves us with a lot of questions to be
answered, but what pleases me most about this list is that we're at least
asking them, and not finding the simple answers that "worked" in the past.
As you pointed out, Symbolics, Thinking Machines, and Xerox look again.
In the case of some of them, they moved on to new fronts, like data mining.

Alternately, we could just use Lisp because we can, and not worry about
being commercial. After all, it worked for Linux, and some people _are_
using it commercially. However, I suspect that at least a few of us would
like to help make people's perception of Lisp a little more positive. That
could give Lisp in general a stronger position, which would be good for
all of us, would it not?

If it's true that Lisp Means Business, and I think it does, then which
business will it be? Know thy enemy, know thy market. Exploit both.
Otherwise, just do it Because You Can.

Martin Rodgers
Enrapture Limited
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