Where Tunes is going.

Pete Gonzalez gonz@ratloop.com
Fri, 22 Oct 1999 21:33:39 -0400 (EDT)

On Fri, 22 Oct 1999, Brian Rice wrote:

> Finally, I suppose that I should re-iterate why my explanations aren't
> fantastic (but improving).  I learn from mathematical theory books and what
> I develop in my own mind from the patterns I see.  I have no daily contact
> with any programmers or mathematicians of any sort, and so my feedback loop
> must run through this group.  It follows that you _will_ hear some crappy
> explanations from me, along with some refined thought.  We as Tunes must
> work through these ideas, because otherwise the product we eventually
> present will be un-intelligible to others.

I think you underestimate the problem here.  I haven't been following this
thread lately, but I did read your original proposal for Arrow, and I
think "un-intelligible" is not an entirely incorrect description.
Certainly this could just be my own lack of familiarity with the subject;
however, I can at least speak in relation to other similarly abstruse
documents I've read, e.g. the ANSI C++ draft standard, the Kolmogorov
complexity book, and most of the "introductory" papers on category theory.

But there's a deeper issue here.  You're talking about a new technology
that supposedly will revolutionize the way programmers (and perhaps even
end-users) develop software.  There have been previous innovations like
this:  structured programming, object-oriented programming, functional
programming, concurrent programming, component software (COM/OLE), etc.
Indeed, each of these started with a lot of rhetoric and circumlocution,
but as the ideas matured they ultimately shook out into a few simple
concepts that *anyone* can understand.  This is partly by necessity;
otherwise the revolution's effect would be localized to the small elite
group capable of understanding it.

But I don't see this happening with Arrow:  You've been writing essays,
e-mails, and papers about it for a long time and still most of your
audience seems to have no clue about what Arrow is (by your own admission),
let alone how they might contribute to its implementation.

This is dangerous for two reasons:  First, it leads to the potential
"emperor's new clothes" scenario associated with vaporware.  But more
importantly, if you can't clearly communicate about Arrow to humans, how
are we supposed to believe that you've developed a fundamentally simpler
framework for communicating about algorithms to machines?

This is not intended as destructive criticism.  Rather, I'm offering the
constructive criticism that your statement "I have no daily contact with
any programmers or mathematicians of any sort" smacks of hubris at best.

As far as I can see, "Where Tunes is going" is in circles.  And that's
disappointing, considering the straightforwardness of its goals.

Best regards,

Pete Gonzalez