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Re: bindings and assignments (was: Re: continuations)

> I agree that saying "people who don't use lisp are stupid" is, well,
> stupid.  For one thing, I can well understand someone preferring the more
> statically-typed world view of java to the more dynamically-typed world
> view of lisp.  What bothers me is when people take one look at lisp, go
> "oh, no, look at all those parentheses!" and run screaming.  Yes, these are
> perhaps social issues, but it's surprising how much of peoples' preferences
> are based on what to me are very superficial issues like this.  Then these
> superficial issues prevent many people from ever delving any further into
> the language; they just write it off immediately.  Often they will also
> come up with a post-hoc justification for their attitude e.g. "oh well,
> lisp is really slow, and it's just an AI language, so it's obviously not
> the tool for the job".  What they really mean is that they thought it was
> icky.
> Maybe what I'm really saying is that I don't understand why people have
> such a hard time with different syntaxes ;-)

I think it's because not everyone has visited enough locations in language
space to achieve the "okay lets see how this language does X" perspective.
For a lot of people, Lisp doesn't just have parentheses, it doesn't look
like _anything_ they recognize.  A 'C' programmer can look at a Java program
and immediately have a "hook" that they understand: "Hey, that's 
a variable -- and over there is a while loop.  This doesn't look so hard.".

Making Java look like C/C++ was (sadly :-) probably a really big factor in
its success.  Making Dylan look like no existing language may have been a
factor in its lack of adoption.  I remember being in the Dylan meetings
when the decision was being made to adopt a new syntax instead of the lispy
one.  I was annoyed by the idea but I had to admit that there was probably
no way to get mass adoption without losing the "()"s.  I stopped being
involved with Dylan soon after that and years later when I went back and
looked at it I was surprised to see that its syntax was fairly 
Who knows, if it had looked more like 'C', it might have made it.  It
certainly deserved to.