general thoughts

Dave Kuhlman dkuhlman at
Tue Sep 24 13:12:55 EDT 2002

Nicola Musatti wrote:

> Alex Martelli wrote:
> [...]
>> I think you need substantial capacity and appetite for abstract thought
>> to really _enjoy_ SICP -- it doesn't spoon-feed you, nor does it use
>> baby-talk, lots of somewhat-repetitive examples, and other standard
>> didactical techniques.  But if the book's style does match your own
>> character and inclination, you're likely to fall in love with it.
> Or, to put it in another way, gurus like this book. ;-)

Not meaning to show my ignorance here, but ...

This book is a huge time sink.  One section shows you how to fake object 
oriented programming in a dialect of lisp with no O-O support.  After 
working through that section, I asked myself, Why do I need to know this?  
What good is it going to do me, unless I'm using a lisp dialect that does 
not support object-oriented programming?

And, a large part of the book describes how to program without variables and 
state.  That's weird and interesting, just like the Elephant Man was weird 
and interesting.  But, after that, then what?  Am I supposed to try to 
program that way?

What is the lesson to be learned from "Structure and interpretation of 
Computer Programs"?  Maybe it's main purpose is to provide an enjoyable 
read for those who have still not given up on lisp.

Seriously, what was I supposed to have gained from all that time I spent on 
this book.  As you may suspect, it captivated me, too.

It did not teach me good Python programming style.  I could not hardly read 
my own code with all those many layers of parentheses.

It did not teach me how to use Python data structures.  I found myself doing 
too many screwy things with lists.

I was supposed to learn something more theoretical, right?  What was it?

Or, was this book just a devious way to trick more people into using lisp?

  - Dave

Dave Kuhlman
dkuhlman at

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