Whitespace as syntax (was Re: Python Rocks!)

Paul Prescod paul at prescod.net
Wed Feb 9 18:06:01 CET 2000

Bijan Parsia wrote:
> ....
> Ok, ok, I'll back off a little. But, really, just because someone
> invokes Squeak in the context of other cluelessness is no reason to come
> out walloping a community that, AFAICT, has done you and intends you no
> harm.

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. 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?

Until Python, it was almost impossible to get a job programming in a
decent programming language. By keeping Smalltalk under a basket for
twenty years (even longer for Lisp) they delayed the popularity of
general purpose high level languages until Perl, Java and VB came along.
Thousands of smart people poured their efforts into Lisp machines and
smalltalk VMs but the languages went nowhere. As Fredrik pointer out, we
still have to justify Python as not-Lisp and not-Smalltalk. This annoys
me. Ego-centric self-destruction annoys me.

Okay, Haskell has an excuse: it is a reasearch language.

K has an excuse: it is a special purpose language.

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.

I have this fantasy that maybe some honest, tough talk could still
improve things. Maybe there is still someone around to listen: When I
download a new programming language, I don't want a new development
environment. I don't want a new GUI paradigm. I don't want a new
religion. I don't want scrollbars on the left. I don't want to re-learn
how to use my computer.

This annoys me not only because it holds the ideas in Smalltalk back
from popularity but because it strikes me as arrogant. Squeak's
designers think that they are so much smarter than the rest of us that
they must "correct" every decision we have ever made including what side
the scrollbar should live on. Just give me a programming language
please! You'll see more of that arrogance on www.smalltalk.org .

 Paul Prescod  - ISOGEN Consulting Engineer speaking for himself
The great era of mathematical physics is now over; the 300-year effort
represent the material world in mathematical terms has exhausted itself.
understanding it was to provide is infinitely closer than it was when
Newton wrote in the late seventeenth centruy, but it is still infinitely
	- The Advent of the Algorithm (pending), by David Berlinski

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