learning Lisp (was: Contributing)
Fri Feb 21 21:38:01 2003
Jecel Assumpcao Jr wrote:
>On Thursday 20 February 2003 18:07, Brian T Rice wrote:
>>If it matters, people like Eric Raymond and Richard Stallman (by no
>>means necessarily the greatest examples) will both tell you that
>>learning Lisp will make you a better programmer even if you never use
>>it (ESR wrote an essay with this as its thesis, actually). If you
>>reject that kind of advice, you're not being flexible, and not
>>reflecting well enough yourself. ;)
>Your advice is great and I'll say more about it below. But you must see
>that you have been expressing yourself in such an agressive tone that
>makes it very likely that your advice will be rejected. Now I
>understand the frustration of dealing with people who are starting out,
>but see how they are treated in the Squeak list and what the result is.
I disagree with Brian's proposed change to the membership policy, but
this is part of a bigger problem.
A living project has to have a lot of members. These members must be of
varying skill, for each brings advantages to the project as a whole. The
veterans obviously bring design and research to the Tunes' body of
knowledge. But veterans are hard to find; they are most likely already
veterans in an area that interests them and are not about to change
projects. Furthermore, veterans are likely employed and have little time
to devote to a free project.
The intermediate members help the newbies get up to speed, and document
the many complex ideas to make that task easier. Essentially,
intermediates help maintain a healthy population for the project.
Intermediates may be even harder to find than veterans, mostly because
intermediates require a lot of project-specific knowledge.
Newbies are plentiful and bring motivation, conversation and population.
Motivation should not be underestimated, for it breeds motivation. Even
in the absence of any veterans, or even intermediates, the project
website can still teach. The newbies can learn from each other faster
than if they are on their own. Newbies converse, mostly in the quest to
acquire knowledge, but also can provide a source for diversity in ideas,
skills and likes; making it more likely the project has the people
necessary to do all the different tasks it might need done. Newbie
populations plentiful, and are an excellent source for contingency: In
the event that an intermediate or veteran member is lost, there will be
a good chance that the replacement will be someone that was a newbie.
More newbies means more intermediate and more veteran members in the
Fare's writings have the ability to inspire people. I have found his
ability to tie politics into almost every discussion important for
understanding why Tunes is good for society. His writings portray Tunes
as more than a nifty computing environment, but rather an agent of
positive social change. Tunes' grand plan goes beyond the cold
calculating world of computer science, and suggests humane computing is
possible. Fare's inspirational writings attract many newbies to the
Tunes project. Yet this newbie source is not is not being transformed
into productive members.
In the couple of years I have been lurking, I have noticed Brian's
aggressive tone has shut down many newbies. A review of the mailing list
before his appearance seems to suggest that Tunes was a much more active
site, and much more friendly too. Tunes attracted members back then, and
we see some are still around as veterans. Since Brian’s join, the only
people that could persevere though the intolerable newbie stage have
become contributors. Cutting off the newbie source has killed the Tunes
project, leaving only Brian’s sanctioned programming project, Slate.
So should the membership be clamped down and the newbie flames continue?
Will admission be granted to the rare few with the prerequisite skills?
This will certainly keep conversation to a minimum, and free the veteran
members to pursue their goals. But what will happen when Brian is
working full time or has other life events that take him away from Tunes
for extended periods of time? This has happened to every other long time
member, and has happened to everyone over the age of 30, so it should be
reasonable to have Tunes plan for this contingency.
Personally I am dismayed at the current state of Tunes. It is the only
place (I have found) on the net that strives for such lofty goals, and
is the only potential meeting place for all those that have the same
dream. The recent website conversion, though beautiful and better
organized, adds little in terms of new information; lots of references,
but those references are not being distilled down to their essential
Tunes’ ideas. The website is going though a cleansing process, Fare’s
political references are disappearing and Tunes is starting to look like
just another lisp. Finally a search of the IRC channel logs shows few
newbies are surviving the near daily “booting” delivered by water.
Kyle Lahnakoski email@example.com
(416) 892-7784 Arcavia Software Ltd