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> blog post The swan-song of a would-be lisper or A working class hero was something to be

The swan-song of a would-be lisper or A working class hero was something to be
Fri, 22 Jun 2007 10:02:21

There's not a friend in sight that doesn't know i like lisp programming. Most of those didn't really know what a programmer does exactly from the outset, but if i noticed that, i just shoved the two concepts in at the same time. By force. Time after time.

So these people are basically better informed about lisp and it's advantages than your standard developer. But they miss context of course. They don't really know what the hell i'm talking about. Still they want to know what's so special. Because special things are special. And so some of them, never programmed in their life, actually ask friends or family members in the computer branch for a second opinion.

A friend of mine has a brother who's quite into programming. He explained to her that there are four types of programming languages, one of which is lisp. But lisp is mostly used by academics, so not much of a practical language. She then said that i thought it was so pretty (never programmed in her life), and he sighed with a dreamy look in his eyes.

Academics huh... I wrestled with that question when trying to decide on a nice language to learn well. Took a month. A bit neurotic really. Things like 'is it really worth my time' and 'won't something like python be more practical if you want to make money with this stuff' spooked through my head. But (un)fortunately i'm not really the practical kind of person. So i opted for weird, as i usually do.

Me being fairly new on the full-time job-market, i got a job that sucked. And i learned a cool language. And annoyed and estranged my friends, who knew nothing about programming, with ravings about lisp and by not responding to their invitations and messages. My sparse sleep-deprived time being taken up by sitting behind a tiny 12 inch (touch) screen. This scenario i sort of envisioned actually; and revelled in a bit. It's kind of romantic, ain't it. From the outside.

But how long can one keep this stuff up? Tough crappy jobs wear down weak middle-class boys. I was always amazed how physical exhaustion affected the mental skills of a certain class of weak middle-class boys. There comes this point that one has to face the facts. Lisp is nice and all, seduces you with it's hypnotising parens. But when push comes to shove, what does it has to offer in the twenty-first century. You can't get yesteryears jobs by living in the past. It's time for people to wake up. All this time wasted. Am i really going to spend this much time again, learning and writing in a relevant language this time, while grinding away at my day-job? Or am i gonna get with the program? Get that job i've got an education for; like good middle-class boys do? At least i've got an education.

Well, fortunately i didn't get to that point. I got my dreamed lisp job. Writing web stuff, for a (mostly) Common Lisp startup. I don't want to rub it in but then again i do: it's by far the uber-coolest job i ever had in my life. There's that lisp connection of course, and then there's those things with little companies which are obvious but look lame when you write them down.

Now we come to the part where one tries to justify writing an ego post about how great stuff is going for you. Ok, my point is: drop whatever you're doing and learn lisp. No wait... you should: drop whatever you're doing and learn lisp if there's someone living in about a radius of one hour travelling by train from your home who in the future wants to hire a lisp programmer who wants to learn exactly the libraries he himself is gonna use.

Unfortunately i did want to make some sort of point, but i wrote myself in a knot. And it's a bit against my world view, that point. I'm not the person that wants to promote a false belief in the absolute supremacy of the human will over circumstances. But reading what i can get my hands on concerning the state of the current lisp world it would seem one can create his own circumstances in some way. It seems like there's not just you, the lonely programmer or whatever trying to get an anonymous job at Big Cooperations Coglomerate Inc. On the fringe there are networks of people trying to do what they percieve is fun. And they seem to sort of create their own little market for products and jobs. And you the job seeker are not entirely decoupled form that network. If the company i'm currently working for meets its current goals, i've helped to create my own niche. And we're bound to need more programmers, and so i have helped a bit to let someone else have a cool job. And for a process like that to function, Something like Common Lisp or Erlang doesn't really need to become the next big thing (so come back to where you belong Erlang! Thinking you're all that all of a sudden... jeez).

For some strange reason reality doesn't really follow my main ideas about how things are gonna pan out; social ecologies are built from something else than one's stereotypes it would seem. Planning for that seemed to actually have payed off. Weird.

That was my point. I introduced it a bit to much, so you might be quite disappointed. For that i'm sorry. You can of course just as well say i got lucky. But i don't really care that much. Even if i'm on the streets again in a few months for boozing to much under work or whatever, i already fulfilled my dreamed up destiny. I can die a happy man.


comments

on Fri, 22 Jun 2007 12:15:18 Remco Gerlich said:

Congrats, yours is the most rambling truly inspirational post I have ever seen :-)


on Sun, 24 Jun 2007 21:52:08 James said:

There is, of course, yet another path: create the startup yourself. You then get to pick the technology yourself.

You also get to do everything else yourself until you have the finances to hire staff, but that's one of them trade-offs. It's hard work on top of a full-time job, but very rewarding when you see it coming together.


on Mon, 25 Jun 2007 10:46:55 thomas11 said:

I so love this post. It's very funny, and really encouraging at the same time. If you love something, do it.


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