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Re: What is a lightweight language

   Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2001 15:58:08 -0500 (EST)
   From: Shriram Krishnamurthi <sk@cs.brown.edu>

   I don't see why something called a "continuation" should inspire any
   more fear in someone who doesn't know them (*and* -- and this is key
   here -- hasn't been told to be scared of them)

I was wondering about why opinions differ on whether CPS and call/cc
are likely to scare people off, and it occurred to me that perhaps it
might have to do with different attitudes and approaches of different
classes of users.

In particular, it seems conceivable that students, as a group, are
generally more open to learning new ideas, and are expecting to be
thrown ideas and concepts that they've never seen before; the better
students presumably relish this (I seem to remember that I did, at the
time).  Learning novel concepts is what a student is *supposed* to be
spending his or her time on.

Whereas professional programmers, as a group, might not be as open to
new ideas.  One reason is that professionals who have been out of
school for many years, and working in industry, have a greater sense
that they "already know" their business.

Another reason is that it really does take some time and committment
to learn new things.  Shriram, I believe everything you say about the
success of your students, but it seems likely to me that it takes them
some time and effort and work to learn this stuff.  (Surely you don't
want to think that your students aren't working and putting in
effort!)  For a professional programmer at a software company, who is
committed to doing specific tasks needed for his job, learning novel
concepts is *not* what he is supposed to be doing.  In my experience,
while everyone acknowledges the virtue of "professional development",
it rarely gets priority over tasks such as fixing a bug that's holding
up a customer, or finishing a feature in time for the release freeze

I must confess that I am in this boat myself.  I do read research
papers (although I think my colleagues do so much less or not at all),
but it's hard to keep focused on ones that don't impinge on the
project I'm working on.  When it comes to languages, the chance that
we're all going to switch to some other language is approximately
zero, which discourages me from putting a lot of effort into that
area.  I'm even having trouble finding the time just to keep up
with this mailing list.

-- Dan