I wish people would stop citing Paul Graham in the discussion of Lisp. Lisp doesn’t need the validation of some hack who founded an incubator just to surround himself with admiring little boys.
Y Carcinator is one of the worst things, if not the worst thing, to have happened to the tech industry in the past decade. It made the snotty, stupid ageism socially acceptable, leading to a slew of stupid management practices (“sprints” and “story points”) and terrible products. Also, the supposedly magical Lisp code that powered Yahoo Store had to be rewritten entirely. I would say that this reflects more on the development process and the people than on the language. There’s plenty of solid code written in Lisp, but you won’t see it anywhere near an incubator based on the “throw feces at the wall, see what sticks” model of business.
This is a good essay and there’s a lot of value in the non-PG stuff, but can we please stop citing this guy on the pretense that he knows anything?
Paul Graham, whatever hack he is now, successfully exited a startup built in Common Lisp. In addition, he’s written two oft cited books about the subject of “ANSI Common Lisp”, and principly about macros, “On Lisp.” Ignoring those contributions, and his role in the resurgence of popular interest in languages derived from Lisp 1.5, would be a grave error.
Feel free to ignore anything else he’s ever written, though.
On Lisp, I remember considering to be pretty good. I’ll give him that. I haven’t read ANSI Common Lisp.
He’s actually a good writer. That’s what makes his brand of toxic wrongness so dangerous. He has the ingredients of disproportionate influence: good writing skills, economic fortune, and a deep understanding of the middle-class earnestness that his ilk became rich by exploiting.
He didn’t turn into a blithering hack until after founding Y Combinator. The problem with social climbing is that you have to learn to enjoy the company of idiots, and eventually, you’re in danger of becoming one. Especially in SillyCon Valley.
Your points are good but your RMS-style neologisms are cringey.
you won’t see it anywhere near an incubator based on the “throw feces at the wall, see what sticks” model of business.
looks like something on the order of 50 billion has stuck to the walls so idk what to make of this
Let’s say that we’re both broke, talentless painters. I buy your next painting for $10 million. You buy my next painting for $10 million. Now we’re both famous painters who sold for lots of money. Your next painting sells for $12 million, and so does mine, even though our art sucks.
Of course, in practice, we’d have to be more subtle about it, working through intermediaries and not having the numbers be exactly the same, but we could have a closed loop where A buys B’s painting for $7M, B buys C’s painting for $9M, yadda yadda but it comes out to zero net change. This is basically how the Manhattan art world works: people print the tape until rich idiots come in and throw money at them.
This kind of self-referentality makes most careers in the Valley.
Occasionally, products get made. It’s not common but it does happen. Just shows that even under bad management, the probability that well-paid engineers create something is non-zero. Engineers recognize that their careers benefit from producing something rather than nothing, so as long as management doesn’t get in their way, there’s a chance that something pops out.