Paul Graham on intimidation, opportunity, and Lisp

Paul Graham on Intimidation, Opportunity, and Lisp

From The Other Road Ahead:

Don't be intimidated. You can do as much that Microsoft can't as they can do that you can't. And no one can stop you. You don't have to ask anyone's permission to develop Web-based applications. You don't have to do licensing deals, or get shelf space in retail stores, or grovel to have your application bundled with the OS. You can deliver software right to the browser, and no one can get between you and potential users without preventing them from browsing the Web.

You may not believe it, but I promise you, Microsoft is scared of you. The complacent middle managers may not be, but Bill is, because he was you once, back in 1975, the last time a new way of delivering software appeared.

True enough. Of course, the notion that the browser is a good-enough client platform becomes increasingly less tenable. So I am still hoping we'll see alternative implementations (commercial and free) of the Common Language Runtime and .NET Framework -- if, indeed, the CLR is fated to do for the desktop what the JVM has not (yet) done.

Paul Graham is a Lisp maven. A long time ago (1987), I wrote application software in (a dialect of) Lisp. Another article of Paul's, Beating the Averages, reminds me why that made sense, and still would.

In yet another essay, Being Popular, Paul discusses the importance of libraries (or frameworks), admittedly not Lisp's strong suite:

I think a lot of the advances that happen in programming languages in the next fifty years will have to do with library functions. I think future programming languages will have libraries that are as carefully designed as the core language.

So far, I see little evidence of any relationship between Lisp and .NET. But Peter Drayton's impression of Eiffel.NET makes me reconsider again whether the CLR is or is not a game of skinnable languages.

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