[erlang-questions] "Erlang as a First Language" -- crazy? or just stupid?

Michael Turner <>
Mon Dec 21 15:29:51 CET 2009

I'm very encouraged by the interest in this topic, and by the diversity
of the replies.  They have already given me some interesting ideas for a
strategy.  I might allow a day or two before I write a summary and a
response.  For now, just to make a few points clear:

(1) I won't be teaching a class.  Anyway, that's not my plan.  A modest
website with tutorials and starter packages, with no promised support
except to the researchers I'm working directly with -- that's the most
I'm thinking about right now.  Even teaching a class for that select
few is not likely -- I'm on the other side of the world from them, and
this is unfunded work.

(2) Don't underestimate how hostile some of these people can be to the
idea of programming at all.  One researcher I'm corresponding with
recently wrote me that he'd rather peel his skin off than write code. 
If you're having trouble understanding this perspective, here's a way
to think about it: imagine you could work on your dream project, the
kind of system you've always wanted to be creating.  Earning 10% more
than the highest hourly rate you've ever commanded.  With your choice
of programming environments.  Got that image set?  OK, there's a catch.
 You know that "choice of environments" I mentioned?  Here it is: you
can write it in Object-Oriented Cobol for an IBM AS/400 with a
green-screen glass-tty terminal, or in Fortran 90 while telnetted from
Windows 95 into a DEC VMS system.  THAT's how some of these people
would feel at the outset about any programming language, and an
environment like the Erlang shell.

-michael turner

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