[self-interest] Our two weapons are fear and surprise...and..

Randy Smith randall.smith at sun.com
Wed Aug 5 17:59:20 UTC 2009

I'm pleased you say "I agree that the language it simple -  
semantically" as that was the intended claim.  Maybe we should put  
that in the title, but it makes it  little clunky sounding.

It wasn't our intent to imply all possible language aspects (syntax,  
object graph branchiness, slot names, the list is infinite ) are also  
particularly simple, and I doubt anyone will argue with you much about  

I like the simplicity of the unix language "pwd." Even though it  
contains only one statement (namely "pwd"), and you can only write one  
program: "pwd,"  I doubt it is even a Turing machine, and the task of  
writing a program to add two numbers in pwd is so hoplessly complex as  
to be probably impossible. BUT! It is super simple to learn and  
remember, and beats Self hands down in those departments.

I suppose the larger question might be: Every language is like a  
carpet with a complexity bump that can be moved around from place to  
place but never flattened out. Are some language carpets intrinsically  
less bumpy?


The claim was intended to be what you agree with when you say
On Aug 5, 2009, at 7:31 AM, brassplume wrote:

> I'd like to point out something about the idea that Self is the  
> language of simplicity. On the home page it says "The Power Of  
> Simplicty". I think that's like saying "All the flavour of regular  
> beer with half the calories." It's kind of a misrepresentation.
> I agree that the language it simple - semantically. But it's common  
> to my point of view that languages that are semantically simple are:  
> 1) capable of sophistication; 2) require a programmer to bring more  
> knowledge and understanding of design.
> Lisp and Smalltalk are semantically simple. Their sophistication and  
> the sophistication required of the programmer is in inverse  
> relationship to that.
> PHP and Perl are simple languages. Not Self. You can be a crap  
> programmer and do lots of useful CRUD things with those languages.  
> Semantically the are complicated. And ultimately they're limiting  
> because of that. The control structures are built in and obvious. In  
> Self, Smalltalk, or Lisp, you need to bring a lot of knowledge to  
> either build your own or see how somebody added objects/classes to  
> do that.
> If you believe Self is the language of simpilicty you either: 1)  
> Have lost all touch with what it means to be a beginner; or, 2) You  
> are way too close to the language to see how it looks to people who  
> program with other tools.
> I used to play a RPG called Paranoia. On the back cover is a message  
> from the evil master computer: "You are in error. No one is  
> screaming. Thank you for your cooperation."
> The way you describe Self reminds me of that. :p
> Chris
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