learning Lisp (was: Contributing)

Brian T Rice water@tunes.org
Sat Feb 22 14:05:02 2003

The silent majority speaks! :)

On Sat, 22 Feb 2003, Kyle Lahnakoski wrote:

> 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.

First, you've not listed yourself as a member. Second, you're making a lot
of comments which are not taking a broad enough perspective of what's
going on lately. My comments follow:

3-Tiered explanation of membership:

> 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
> long run.

Now, having said that (which I am in agreement with), why isn't the
suggestion to divide up the http://tunes.org/members/ page into Members,
Contributors, and Guests insufficient to address this?

> 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.

We won't change anything socially if the technically-capable people are
made impotent to help Tunes because they cannot identify any clear ideas
to code from. I am as much in favor of social change as Fare, perhaps not
expressed in nearly the same way or with the same outward appearances, but
the way Tunes was previously expressed put political expression into
everything, which diluted any technical content. I've been making this
argument for years and have been actively campaigning and altering the web
site and letting /everyone know/ what I am doing and asking for
suggestions, and yet you choose NOW to bring this up.

I think it should also be pointed out that we look like absolute IDIOTS to
the rest of the world for making an unobtainable political stance. I say
unobtainable because we require working software to demonstrate our ideas;
working software that will not exist until we clarify the technical
implications of the political ideas.

I think you're taking the "Tunes membership" concept far too seriously. We
can create a "Tunes political party" if you prefer, and all the guests
could be members of that. Is this what you want? Maybe there should be a
Francois-Rene Rideau political party to satisfy you. Maybe you should read
through http://cliki.tunes.org/Trotskyite%20Tunes and tell me how Fare's
politics are necessarily implied by our technical ideas. From that read,
I'd say reactionary communism can't be ruled out, either. (This is the
reason I love this essay.)

> 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=92s 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=92s sanctioned programming project, Slate.

What would these newbies have done for us? If you observe the pattern, you
will see that they were attracted by totally false impressions of the
Tunes concepts, and that

As for claiming that Slate is the only project contributing to Tunes, you
are blatantly disregarding Fare's mention of the
http://cliki.tunes.org/Activities page. Everything mentioned there has
something to contribute to building or developing our ideas surrounding

> 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.

How old is Francois now?

You're claiming that my level of commitment here is somehow measurable
with anyone else's on this project. I noticed Tunes in 1995, read every
bit of its web pages in cycles of around one month period for years, spent
those years studying higher mathematics, a LOT of ideas in logic and
philosophy, and finally every significant idea I could dredge up from
Computer Science. All of that was BEFORE I joined the mailing list (in
late '98), and I did not become a member until at least a year after that.
My level of commitment is astronomical compared to yours or anyone's
except for people who you can call members and not have to laugh.

I do not intend to abandon Tunes for any upcoming time. Everything I'm
doing right now is directed towards it. I don't think you appreciate how
much I've thrown away just to have the freedom to work on this project,
and I'm not going to spell it out for you because you feel slighted.

> 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=92 ideas. The website is going though a cleansing process, Fare=92s
> 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 =93booting=94 delivered by water.

We're also ridiculed for everything that's happened about Tunes over the
years. Tunes was forgotten by the time I joined, and it's only attracting
its due attention now because of my continued efforts to weed out the

As for your complaints about the CLiki, perhaps I should remind you that
it is a review, which means that there needs to be at least some
objectivity and relation to common terminology. At the very least, this
allows people to understand how their language fits into our technical
terms (which have political connotations, separately-described but
immediately accessible).  Also we *do* have every Tunes-based term in
there, and the reviews do lean towards Tunes, but we can't afford to do
what was there before, which consisted of little more than mud-slinging
when we didn't have any basis for our self-supposed technological or moral

And as for its incompleteness, ITS A WIKI. It won't even be complete when
Tunes is complete. If there are terms you'd like to get clarified or
improved upon or added to, describe them here for debate or create a node
for it yourself on the cliki and work it out collaboratively with someone.
I guarantee that if you try introducing a concept on the CLiki, that one
of the Tunes members will respond to correct you, and it won't just be me.

Brian T. Rice
LOGOS Research and Development