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RE: Common Lisp "let"

> I don't think this quote from your web page,
> http://www.prescod.net/xml/sexprs.html, is particularly accurate:
> "
> Since the late 50s there has existed a subculture of computer science
> devoted to the obscure but sophisticated programming language
> known as Lisp. The Lisp cabal is understaqndably frustrated to see their
> ideas reinvented or copied elsewhere.

A possible cause of frustration is that the ideas are only partially
reinvented, and incompletely copied.

There are reasons for this, though, such as that the Lisp solution more or
less requires a single integrated language and data format, in recognition
of the fact that code is data and vice versa.  This is very powerful, in a
"semantic compression = power" kind of way, but requiring a single language
and data format isn't very practical in many "real-world" situations.

If one doesn't acknowledge the impracticality of imposing a single language
and data format, then it's easy to see XML as a kind of cargo cult attempt
at copying the heap big juju possessed by the Lisp world.  If you accept
that impracticality, then
XML is a big advance.  It offers the first standardized, general, rich data
format that's entered truly widespread use, ever.  (Note: words in preceding
sentence are defined in such a way as to make sentence true.)

Like both Linux and Windows, what's special about XML is more social than
technological - it's simply the fact that so many people have agreed on it.
As Neel Krishnaswami said, "it's foolish to ignore capabilities that are
already there."  XML is a giant leap for industry, but from another
perspective it's only a small step in a well-known direction.

Which makes it an ideal topic for contentious, long-running mailing list
threads... :)