pithy quote isnt substance; Erik Naggum

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Erik Naggum and Why There Isn't An Ocean of “Lisp Jobs”

Xah Lee, 2010-08-03

Discovered a blog article, that summarizes some of Erik's ideas in 28 quotes. The quote headings are:

  • On the Free Software movement
  • On how C “feels fast”
  • On “Worse is Better” (aka the New Jersey Approach)
  • A reply to any programmer who sticks to C because of “speed”
  • On the value of reading Open Source code
  • On markets and “giving people what they want”
  • On the decline of professional equipment for programming
  • On the wastefulness of language proliferation
  • On the “Imponator”
  • On the deficiencies of HTML
  • On the decline of programming as a serious professional field
  • On the lack of ads for “Lisp jobs”
  • On the “Y2K Problem”
  • On why there isn’t an ocean of “Lisp jobs”
  • On parentheses-phobia
  • What killed micropayments
  • On “CD-R brains”
  • On programmers with the “poor farmer” mentality”
  • On market fragmentation
  • On how sharing source may discourage design flexibility
  • On the idiotic fallacy that “a good programmer shouldn’t care about language choice”
  • On conformism
  • On “manual-inches”
  • Reply to someone who complained about the cost of ANSI Standard documents
  • On how certain languages discourage conscientious programming
  • On labor unions
  • On how the corporate dead can prey on the living

The Wisdom of Erik Naggum (2010), by Stanislav Datskovskiy. At Source.

Erik's writings are often too much abuse and rambling, but Stanislav's selective quotes presents his ideas very well. Though, i must say most of Erik's writings stand as wisdom or pithy quotes only. They lacks academic depth. For broad scholars, i'd say most of Erik's ideas are common sense. What lacks that would make much of his ideas more useful is in-depth analysis or further research.

For example, in «On why there isn’t an ocean of “Lisp jobs”», Erik compared to the fact that there's not much job listing for neurosurgeons. Yeah, it makes you see a point. But that's about it. if you delve into this, either there's no depth to it, or, would lead to many years of research on multiple facets. For example, first of all, intelligent person really won't be asking a dumb question as “why there's no lisp jobs” as the way Erik answered it. Now, if you ask the question why there's not much job listing for neurosurgeons... the answer is quite complex. First of all, actually i'm sure there are a lot job listings for neurosurgeons. You just need to look into the right community or place. So the question is more about why there's no job listings for neurosurgeons in a general job board. Of course, that became a dumb question. So, at this point, to make something out of Erik's writing, it might be about research on the history job listings, survey of job boards, report on the categorization of job and careers of past 200 years, documenting the types of job boards there are. Statistical info on lisp jobs in general programing job boards thru the years, comparison of programing language mention frequency in job boards thru recent years... Erik's writings usually doesn't contain any substance of this sort.

In fact, some of Erik's ideas, being so short as they are, borders on being incorrect. So, why there's no ocean of lisp jobs? Of course, the answer is because lisp language is dead, and is not used much in the industry. At the height of lisp days in the 1980s, i'm sure there's lots lisp jobs. The meat behind the question “why there's no lisp jobs” is really from the implied premises that lisp is a powerful quality language. So, the question is a disguised form of “why a powerful language isn't used in the industry?”. In this question, the first thing to ascertain is whether lisp is such a great language at all. This question immediately present a problem for scholarly discussion. It's too broad and meaningless. Even if you agree to some degree that lisp is “just great”, there are so many factors that shapes society. e.g. timing, marketing, political stability, economic situation... nothing to do with the quality of the language itself. Concerning the language, there are also factors not related to computer-science, e.g. maybe lisp syntax with its nested parens ultimately is un-friendly or costy for average programers to get accustomed to? So, you see, when looked in depth, “wisdom” type of writings is good just to make a point. Academically, they fall apart into mundane facts or irrelevance.

The blog author Stanislav actually linked me in his block roll. Thanks!

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