Tunes suggestions (was: learning Lisp)

Kyle Lahnakoski
Sun Feb 23 20:48:02 2003

Brian T Rice wrote:

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

The word “member” has a positive psychological effect on people. I 
believe this effect was first abused en-mass by the American Express 
credit card company. “Membership” makes people feel special because they 
belong to a special (read well-defined) group. A single type of 
membership puts the newbies on the same level as veterans and that can 
be both motivational and cozy. Motivational because being part of a 
special group, including veterans, places an expectation to do for the 
project. Cozy because there is no gauntlet of membership levels to run, 
or constant work required to maintain membership (very good for if a 
member disappears for life reasons). IMHO, the choice to stratify 
membership into three or more groups goes against the socialist nature 
of Tunes.

 >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 did not mean to imply that Tunes should stay deliberately vague. More 

 >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.

There are two aspects to the Tunes writings: the art and the science. 
The art inspires and the science teaches. As I see, Fare’s writings are 
not meant to teach, but inspire. Its diluted technical content is 
deliberate, not only due to lack of good specification at the time, but 
also to get an impression across efficiently. Motivation comes before 
learning, so Fare’s documents should be prominent on the Tunes site. The 
cold, technical information can be indexed, categorized, numbered, and 
cross-referenced on other pages (the wiki) for people to peruse as much 
as their newly acquired motivation allows.

 >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.

Although I know that the proposed change to the Tunes membership 
prompted me to react, I do not know why I did not speak up earlier. 
Certainly the membership is not the biggest change you proposed to 
Tunes; maybe it was just symbolic. Anyway, it does not matter that I am 
NOW bringing this up, for despite my criticism, I do not see any work 
that you have wasted. The work on Slate is commendable, and the wiki is 
a definite asset.

 >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 believe this paragraph demonstrates a basic disagreement. You assume 
that the rest of the world thinks Tunes members are “absolute IDIOTS” 
(often confused with visionaries), and it matters. What population are 
you referring to when you mention the “rest of the world”? Obviously you 
think this population needs working software as proof that the ideas are 
sound. This population is obviously skeptical of Tunes’ goals as 
currently stated, and is not going to be convinced until proof is given.

But the Tunes project is the act of clarifying the technical 
implications of the political ideas. Until Tunes is done, there will 
always be more political ideas that need clarifying, and each time those 
skeptics will not be convinced until proven wrong. Only when Tunes is 
done will the skeptics be satisfied, but at that point why would we 
care? I suggest that Tunes ignore the need to convince others, but 
rather exist to attract others.

On another tack, it is perplexing that you, Brian, even care that Tunes 
members appear as “absolute IDIOTS”. I can understand that Brian would 
not want to look like an “absolute IDIOT” himself, but I do not see why 
he would care if other members look like “absolute IDIOTS”. Certainly 
these members joined Tunes of their own free will, and so believe their 
membership does not reflect negatively on their appearance to the “rest 
of the world”.

The only explanation I can come up with that can explain Brian’s caring 
is that the Tunes site, or Tunes members, are reflecting badly his 
karma. Brian closely associates his karma with Tunes’ karma. This 
association is only possible for things he is responsible for. In the 
world of ideas, responsibility is the same as ownership*. So I must 
conclude that from Brain’s statements that he owns the Tunes project: 
Fare’s and Armin’s work are simply projects associated with Tunes.

(*Association with a group does not reflect on a participant’s karma. 
Sure, the association can suggest that the participant subscribes to the 
common rhetoric of the group, but it is the *subscribed* rhetoric that 
impacts the member’s karma, and not the association itself. When a 
member takes responsibility for a group’s rhetoric he is acting as an 
owner: declaring the group’s rhetoric IS his own. As owner, certain 
controls must be in place to control the group’s rhetoric because it 
reflects on himself.)

The above is not a complaint, nor do I feel slighted. And seen in a 
positive light I am sure many of you will agree that Brian has taken on 
an ownership role for Tunes. I am only suggesting alternatives to how 
Brian can run the project.

I believe it would serve Brian better to associate his karma with Slate 
only; any association with Tunes would be a mentoring role. In this 
scenario, negative Tunes karma would not reflect on his own. Brian would 
not have to be concerned about what the rest of the world thinks about 
Tunes, because he does not own Tunes, he owns Slate. I believe that 
Brian, after all his research and like the student surpassing his 
master, has outgrown the current Tunes site. There appears to be only 
two options open to him, to continue on his own or assume ownership of 
the dojo.

I am not suggesting that Brian’s Slate split from the Tunes project: 
there is a third option. I suggest a symbiotic project relationship: 
Tunes gathers new members, inspires, and teaches. Slate is a proof of 
concept prototype that exemplifies some Tunes concepts. Maybe there 
should be many links between the two projects that reveal this 
symbiosis. Deciding how intimate the relationship is between the two 
projects would be up to Brian because it is his karma on the line.

I prefer this symbiotic option because, as I said before, Tunes is the 
only site I have seen that is capable of attracting many Tunes-minded 
members. If Brian is to take ownership of Tunes then he should rightly 
alter it to be more in line with what is required to get his work done. 
I do not want to see Fare’s vision of Tunes lost, nor do I want Brian to 
discontinue his work.

 >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 so. :) But likely not. A political party lacks the marriage of 
technical implementation and vision that the Tunes project has.

 > Maybe you should read
 >through 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.)

I will admit that Fare’s politics are not necessarily implied by the 
technical ideas. But this necessary implication is not important. As I 
said, Fare’s writings are art, and art always deserves license to be 

 >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

Your definition of “false impressions” is probably quite technical in 
nature; anyone with the “right impression” is probably a systems expert. 
Newbies are not meant to have the “right impression” or be of any 
technical use. Their role is to bring motivation, conversation and 
population. The intermediate members are responsible for adjusting 
newbie impressions to be the “right impression”.

 >>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?

And how often has he disappeared for months at a time? Even now he is 
around, but unable to dedicate the much time to Tunes. Although Tunes 
will always benefit from Fare’s involvement, the Tunes community should 
be robust enough to survive the disappearance of any reasonable number 
of members.

 >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.

It would be a shame that all other members would have to take the same 
long path you took to get where you are. I am certain that there is much 
efficiency that can be gained now that you have the knowledge you do. 
Your knowledge of the important concepts, aspects and seminal papers is 
an excellent resource for others.

The wiki appears to be filling with references but lacks original 
content (with a few notable exceptions). Each reference is a link to a 
paper or a site that does not have Tunes goals in mind and is therefore 
sparse in essential concepts; filled with relatively needless verbosity, 
redundancy or rigorous proof. Now, proofs have their use (to convince 
the skeptical) but are not what a new member needs to consume. What a 
new member needs is a short presentation of the major idea, its limits, 
where it is put to use, and examples that convince the member that the 
idea is useful. A footnote to a more diluted document can always be kept 
for veterans.

And as you said, this criticism of mine may just be a side effect of the 
wiki being incomplete. But it disturbs me that the ones who have added a 
reference, add little or nothing about why the link is important or what 
concepts it already covers.

 >I do not intend to abandon Tunes for any upcoming time.

I do not mean to imply that you *intend* to abandon Tunes. I am 
suggesting that there is a high chance you will disappear, maybe for 
months at a time. This can reasonably happen if your company, ?Logos? 
takes off and demands a large amount of your time. Maybe you meet the 
right person and take a few months to travel the world. Who knows? I do 
know that most people have the most free time of their lives before they 
start their career. These people are usually young, so need directed 
tutoring to learn the current state of Tunes quickly and become 
productive before later life events give demand higher priorities 
(money, love, life).

 > 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.

I can only imagine the amount of time you have dedicated towards Slate 
and thoughts on Tunes. Yet when you say you have “thrown away” things in 
order to work on Tunes, you imply you paid an inflated, unfair price for 
the work you are doing on Tunes. Certainly, every decision has a price, 
but you can not gripe about costs when you make a decision with your own 
free will. I am certain you have enjoyed your work on Tunes, and the 
costs you incurred were worth it. So, it is not for me to “appreciate” 
what you have “thrown away” because that was you choice, and is none my 

The work you have done for Tunes is another matter, and does deserve 

 >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

I admit my last post did not give you credit your continued efforts to 
weed out the confusion. Tunes certainly needs help in this area. My 
point is you are a *one* man *army*. I use “Army” because the amount of 
work is undoubtedly voluminous, and “one” because that work depends on 
your constant presence.

 >And as for its incompleteness, ITS A WIKI. It won't even be complete when
 >Tunes is complete.

This is true. The more I think about it the more I agree that the wiki 
should be where the cold facts are presented and indexed, and will 
certainly never be complete. But a wiki’s uniform look is not good for 
everything, and I do not agree that the wiki should be replacing the old 
Tunes site completely. Maybe the Tunes site should remain political in 
nature, off-loading the cold facts to the wiki so that Tunes’ 
presentation is simpler and cleaner. But this is all just my humble opinion.

Kyle Lahnakoski                             
(416) 892-7784                                    Arcavia Software Ltd