Books of Note

Practical Common
LispThe best intro to start your journey. Excellent coverage of CLOS.

ANSI Common
LispAnother great starting point with a different focus.

Paradigms of Artificial Intelligence
ProgrammingA superb set of Lisp examples. Not just for the AI crowd.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Am I really a seasoned programmer? 

Bill Clementson summarized a nice long thread on comp.lang.lisp where people were commenting on when they learned Lisp. The interesting thing is the number of us that have found Lisp after more than 30 years of life. For me, I'll turn 37 next month and started programming seriously in Lisp at the beginning of this year (2004). The c.l.l thread started when Duane Rettig noticed a line in Thomas Schilling's signature quoting Paul Graham: "But I don't expect to convince anyone (over 25) to go out and learn Lisp." Duane stated that he started at age 31, and then everybody else piled on.

I think that Paul Graham was intending to say that people, once set in their ways, are less able to be convinced about new things ("You can't teach an old dog new tricks," and all that). The interesting thing is that Lisp seems to cross that divide. In fact, I sometimes think that Lisp appeals to older programmers who have tried all the rest and found them lacking. With the perspective of many different programming languages and an understanding of what really matters to help productivity, the seasoned (wow, is that what I am now...?) Lisp idiosyncrasies like lots of parenthesis are more likely to be viewed as assets than annoyances. In short, after you have tried a bunch of solutions that don't work, you're jaded about marketing claims, and you just want to get the job done, not be cool and follow the herd, Lisp is there.

That's what I did. I found Lisp.

PS: it was interesting to note that Bill titled his blog entry "Coming to Lisp." Exactly.

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