Whitespace as syntax (was Re: Python Rocks!)

Bijan Parsia bparsia at email.unc.edu
Thu Feb 10 00:51:19 EST 2000

Neel Krishnaswami <neelk at brick.cswv.com> wrote:

> Paul Prescod <paul at prescod.net> wrote:
> >
> > I admit that Smalltalk and Lisp have annoyed me for a while. I would
> > apologize for taking it out on you but actually I didn't. The question
> > was asked whether languages succeed or fail for a reason. I strongly
> > believe that they do. If you spend 10 minutes reading www.python.org and
> > then 10 minutes on www.smalltalk.org you will see the difference
> > yourself.

I'm still missing the big problem with www.smalltalk.org. I thought the
proposals for mod.smalltalk and xml.smalltalk were useful and

Are these even comparable sites, aside from the domain names?
www.python.org is run by an organization which one *might* describe as
an "industry group", but also is, as much as any group is, the "vendor"
of the Python 1.5.2 implementation. (Nothing *wrong* with any of this,

www.smalltalk.org is and advocacy site run by an individual. And I
*still* don't see what's so wrong with it.

Try surfing around a bit more before generalizing.

>If it is an attack against the Smalltalk community to point
> > out that they have surpressed widespread knowledge of a great
> > programming language for nigh twenty years?

It's an attack, and an unfounded one, to suggest that the Smalltalk
community "suppressed" knowledge of Smalltalk, yes. It's also just plain
*false*, but what does *that* matter?

And your recent posts *help*? Criticism is one thing; mindless,
inaccurate, vague, uninformed bashing is another.

Y'know. Sorta like the stuff about whitespace.

[snip a very nice summary of Common Lisp resources. I could say similar
things about Smalltalk.]

> > Smalltalk and Lisp should be a hundred times more popular today than
> > they are. The state of programming language deployment should be five
> > years ahead of where it is. People should not think that Java is cool
> > and modern. It's all very disappointing.

And it's all *our* little fault. Deary me :)

> >This annoys me not only because it holds the ideas in Smalltalk
> > back from popularity but because it strikes me as  arrogant. Just give
> > me a programming language please!

Well, *striking* you as arrogant is one thing. *Being* arrogant is
another. Historically, there have been "IDE free" Smalltalks. They
generally haven't caught on. Gnu Smalltalk is being revitalized, so
there will be one again. You can run headless versions of many
Smalltalks, yadda yadda yadda.

Silly facts.

I won't even go into the fact that some of the important ideas of
Smalltalk are in the fact that (for most implementations) the "language"
syntax is just *one* interface to the objects. You don't write program
texts, you manipulate program objects through an number of modalities.
This has some interesting consquences, and is worth exploring. IMHO.


Bijan Parsia.

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