[FoRK] Programming languages, operating systems, despair and anger

Jeff Bone jbone at place.org
Thu Nov 12 12:05:20 PST 2009

Damien writes:

> What you describe is a massive undertaking - and one rife with  
> problems that when resolved result is a mess of not quite right  
> solutions.

And one that has mostly been done, pretty well -- cf. the  
aforementioned Rebol.  While almost everything else out there is a  
"language for the 80s conceived in the 90s" Rebol is a language for  
the teens conceived in the 90s.

It's just unfortunately crippled by lots of other baggage.  But it's  
been out there for a decade now, the strength and utility of its novel  
ideas should be patently obvious to anyone, and it's only the myopic  
enterprise-developer (rather than the improvisational duct-tape  
programmer) that fails to instantly recognize this.  So why haven't  
the damn language geeks figured this shit out?

Other promising contenders, hobbled for other reasons:  PowerShell  
(.Net is ghastly, and it shows through) and arc (still too religiously- 
lispy to get behind the kind of strict literalism Rebol initiates and  
I am endorsing.)  Erlang is good for what it is (a language for the  
90s designed in the 80s and 90s, finding use in the late-Oughts) but  
it's just a DSL for join calculus and large-scale systems-building.   
Syntactically a mess, but at least it has symbols --- but bad for much  
of the kind of stuff many of us do in terms of data-wrangling.  Other  
almost-contenders litter the roadside of development:  FiSH (both of  
them), various Logos, Shoes (DAMN WTLS!), Pluvo, etc. all promising,  
never to realize their potential.  Various analytical DSLs --- R comes  
to mine --- absolutely *shine* but fail to generalize enough beyond  
their niche.  Etc...

Don't BS me about what a "massive" undertaking this is.  It's  
obviously do-able, there are 80% existence proofs.  It's just that  
none of them cover enough of the set of disjoint use cases to get  
enough traction --- *or* they fail the adoption test for non-technical  

> Your platonic ideals will not help you here.

Let's not be rude.  As previously discussed, I sit far closer to the  
Epicurean end of that false one-dimensional landscape than the  
Platonic.  But not even that anymore, so much, really.


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