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Relevance of research and Plan 9

A late entry for the thread on Rob Pike's slides:

The slides don't say much to me aside from communicating
Pike's frustration at having been a part of a project that he
found interesting and now regards as something of a failure.

>From my point of view (Joe Programmer, non-academic),
Plan 9 never made itself clear.  I tried to read the material
on the web, but could not get any sense of what it was
trying to do.  Likewise, the Plan 9 shell...  when looking for
a good shell, I read what little there is, and it amounted to
"It's similar to the Bourne shell..."

Perhaps an academic might have enough of a sense of mission
to dig in and find out what the deal was, but I didn't get
the feeling that anything inspired was occurring (sorry!).

I think that what is missing is some sort of hook or statement
of mission or extravant claim.  I didn't see any indication of
what Plan 9 tried to do, what problem it tried to solve,
what space it tried to occupy.

If you look, for instance, at Olin Shivers' material on the Scheme
Shell, you get it immediately:  that rather than try to add programming
power to a shell, he wanted to add shell-like attributes to a programming
language.  Now this is a revolutionary idea, even to someone who
never touches the Scheme shell.  Shivers throws it out there; the
Plan 9 folks seem to have kept the ideas to themselves.

Kevin Kelleher <kkell@znet.com>