[erlang-questions] Erlang Intro/Evangelism Presentation -- Starbucks!

Michael Turner <>
Sun Jan 9 05:34:16 CET 2011

Paul Graham's Beating the Averages can always bear another re-reading
(notwithstanding it's various exaggerations -- I'm sorry, Paul, but Cobol IS
closer to Python than to assembly language.)  You could probably substitute
"Erlang" for "Lisp" everywhere in the essay, without doing violence to an
excellent point.

The problem is, Graham is addressing a special case: the startup context,
when there is (almost by definition, from the VC point of view) a market
window for a new class of application.  The overwhelming bulk of production
code in the world does not match that description.  Faced with the problem
of maintaining Yahoo! Stores as production code, Yahoo! rewrote it in C++
and Perl.  Paul Graham opines that they did this only out of Lispophobia,
but I really wonder: if he'd been golden-handcuffed to Yahoo! and put in a
position to hire underlings, he'd be in an awkward position, wouldn't he?
"Gee, I have to hire quite a few Lisp hackers who are both (a) more or less
in my league, and (b) all hot to work at Yahoo! on something like Viaweb,
rather than, say, some interesting problem in computational linguistics.
 And, uh-oh, in the meantime, I'm getting a million resumes from people who
have written a few hundred lines of bad Autolisp."  I think the pickings
would be slim.  In an interesting thread of commentary on Paul Graham's
essay, none other than Dan Weinreb, one of the preeminent Lisp hackers of
our time (or any time) writes:

"... it would take a lot, or require special circumstances, to persuade me
to choose Lisp for a major software project, if I were in charge of
making the choice."



On Sun, Jan 9, 2011 at 6:20 AM, Robert Virding <
> wrote:

> ----- "Edmond Begumisa" <> wrote:
> > Probably true. But I am reminded of something very interesting Ulf has
> >
> > just pointed me to...
> >
> > "The Innovator's Dilemma (C. Christensen) as quoted by Todd A.
> > Proebsting
> > ...
> >
> > "… companies [languages] that did everything right---were in tune with
> >
> > their competition, listened to their customers, and invested
> > aggressively
> > in new technologies---*still* lost their market leadership when
> > confronted
> > with disruptive changes in technology…"
> >
> > http://ll2.ai.mit.edu/talks/proebsting.ppt
> This is definitely a very interesting book to read (the Innovator's
> Dilemma). Also interesting is Paul Graham's essay "Beating the Averages",
> http://www.paulgraham.com/avg.html , which is also about disruptive
> technologies.
> Robert
> --
> Robert Virding, Erlang Solutions Ltd.

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