Lisp mentality vs. Python mentality

John Yeung gallium.arsenide at gmail.com
Sun Apr 26 05:06:55 CEST 2009


On Apr 25, 9:05 pm, Mark Wooding <m... at distorted.org.uk> wrote:
> Carl Banks <pavlovevide... at gmail.com> writes:
> > Graham, for his part, doesn't seem to appreciate that
> > what he does is beyond hope for average people, and
> > that sometimes reality requires average people to write
> > programs.
>
> I think he understands that perfectly well.  But I think he
> believes that the sorts of tools which help average people
> write programs get in the way of true wizards.
>
> I think I agree.  
>
> On the other hand, I don't think Python actually does get
> in the way very much.

Actually, Graham doesn't have particularly strong objection to
Python.  Partly this is because he sees it as being largely as capable
and expressive as Lisp (mainly sans macros, of course); partly because
he sees that Python tends to attract good programmers (chief among
them Trevor Blackwell).

In my view, what is remarkable about Python is that it is so
accessible to average programmers (and frankly, even rather poor
programmers) while still managing to stay appealing to top-notch
programmers.

That said, my experience with Lisp programmers has mainly been with
people who like Scheme, which may explain why Carl Banks and I have
different impressions of Lisp programmers.  (We also seem to differ on
how accurate it is to refer to Scheme as Lisp.)  But in my experience,
Lisp in any form tends not to attract average programmers, and
certainly not poor programmers.  I don't mean to say Banks is wrong; I
said up front my exposure to the Lisp community is limited.  I am just
giving my own impressions.

Python is easily powerful enough and expressive enough to be an
"enabler language".  I guess not Ultimate, but close enough that
Graham isn't particularly turned off by it!

John



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