Web-Lisp? Oh no!

Cyber Surfer cyber_surfer@wildcard.demon.co.uk
Fri, 02 May 1997 17:58:00 +0100

At 05:51 02/05/97, DF@GLIDER.MACLAB.LONESTAR.ORG wrote:

>I don't see that this is necessarily true; certainly it would be true if
>we totally dumped HTML and HTTP and provided no way to be compatible,
>but I don't see why, if we gave people a language they could use that
>was undeniably superior to HTML (and easier to use, and easier to write
>authoring programs for, and therefore more featureful and easier to use
>authoring programs), I don't see why we should necessarily fail.  I
>don't think anyone out there is `in love with' HTML, so I don't see why
>anyone would -resent- someone trying to replace it.  It's just that a
>replacement would have to be undeniably superior in order for people to
>care enough to bother taking a look at it.

I'm thinking of the inertia. HTTP & HTML  reached a point a few years
ago where they had "citical mass". If they die, it'll be a very slow death.
Convince me that we have the resources to tackle MS, Netscape, and
Sun, and I might be inclined to agree with you.

There have been some successful alternatives and extensions to
protocols and languages. ISTR something called Hyper-G that fits this
description. So far, most people seem to be ignoring it. Our efforts
could be equally obscure, but that's not necessarily a reason to not
to something. Too much negativity can stiffle creativity.

>I want a LispOS that not only would I be perfectly comfortable in (when
>not using my LispM), but that Joe User would also be comfortable in.
>I'm sick of not being able to get a decent job in the computer industry
>because the computer industry is still living in the ice age.

That's why I like the idea of integrating Lisp tools into the frameworks
with corporate backing. (No, this is not a Tcl reference!) As I have to
use certain technologies anyway, and no amount of effort is going to
change that overnight, I'm interested in the technologies that we can
be fairly sure will still be with us 10 years from now - however inferior
they may be to a pure Lisp way of doing things. The sad truth is that
the corporate world won't be easily convinced that Lisp is better than

So, I find myself either looking for tools with tighter integration, like
DylanWorks, or a pure LispOS just for my own use. One approach
is full of compromise, while the other is likely to be of little commercial
value, but loads of fun. I'm all in favour of doing things for the fun of it,
so I have no problem with this. I could have two machines, one for
personal use, running a LispOS, the other for work, running NT.

Others have pointed out how hard it can be to pursuade people to
switch from one OS to another, even for a single machine. One problem
we might have could be support. However good our LispOS might
be for us, there number of people who can support such machines
will - at least initially - be very limited. Meanwhile, Unix and NT have
no shortage of consultants, books, courses, and all forms of support.

Let's learn to walk before we run. A LispOS is a fine idea, but a
commercial LispOS is also a _grand_ idea. Look at Linux. Even
if Linux is ready for the corporate world (BBC, IKEA are using
it, so...), I bet it takes a lot of internal political support to make this
happen. The "Unix vs Lisp" debate is raising its ugly head, even
here on this list.

All I'm saying is that we should try to be realistic about our own
capabilities, and not blind ourselves with the superior qualities of
Lisp. _We_ can see it, because we use Lisp, but don't forget how
many people either don't understand Lisp, or who do understand
and don't still don't want it. We'd have to find something more than
Lisp, like a killer app, to achieve that.

As I said, let's learn to walk before we run. Killer apps will be easy
once we have a working system, right?

>    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.
>Definately.  Let's do it.  I like Tim Pierce's plan of action.  We need
>to start focusing on details, divide into sub-groups, create a roadmap
>that the subgroups can follow to maintain some cohesion so that future
>integration of the various groups' projects will be relatively painless.

Agreed. Let's do it.

>Without focus and direction we will never ever get anywhere.
>Thanks for your comments, Martin.

You're welcome.

Martin Rodgers
Enrapture Limited
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