Monday, August 10, 2009

To write, or not to write?

>> By the way, to change the subject a little, who was it who said,
>> "there are no dead languages, only dead minds"?
> Dunno, but to change the subject even more, Socrates objected to writing
> since it deprives an idea of a mind in which it can "live". So yeah.

Interesting. "Free writing" is a form that lives within a mind but also create a permanent record and slow the mind down enough to achieve more coherence so the mind can work out hard problems. Comedy writing is necessary to trigger a laugh response because every word matters, but then the words must be delivered as if they were coming live from a mind. Exceptions are improv and semi-improv such as Eddie Izzard, of which Mr. Socrates would approve because they arise within a living mind.

I get a lot of complaints about the writing in this blog because I deliberately write as chaotically as I think. Other times I found I gave a much better talk if I read from something written beforehand precisely because otherwise the living mind is too chaotic to get the talk done in anywhere near the time available.

I was just getting ready to videotape an improvised bit to get the good bits to then pull into a fixed, written bit because I am finding good stuff comes out only if the mind is not slowed down as by free writing.

The question is whether Eddie Izzard is lazy, or if Socrates is right on this. Does Izzard do better by capturing his improv and distilling it down to a precise fixed bit, or does he do worse? Or does he just lack the ability to deliver the prepared as if it were unprepared.

We're getting pretty close to talking about programming in Lisp vs NotLisp now. Lisp programming unconstrained by static typing and blessed with a rich library once that library is mastered such that it is all at the programmer's fingertips allows the code to flow freely yet mostly correctly from a live mind even as that mind is forming the solution the code embodies. Diagram that.


chthon said...

In 1981 or thereabouts, Byte Magazine dedicated a whole issue to Smalltalk-80.

One of the things that struck me and which I keep remembering, is that the designers of the system, which then ran on the Xerox Alto, took into account the results of usability testing and said that the design had to deliver response times beneath 100 ms, because this is advantageous to not disturb the flow of an idea. If you are busy and are interrupted by a delay in the response time of the computer, then your flow of thoughts becomes broken.

So, I presume there is some real psychological ground to this idea.

foo said...

That's why incremental compilation is so useful.

BTW, did you see the CLIM listener? People say it's more fun than SLIME, but it hanged for me almost immediately in SERVE-EVENT. Damn SBCL.

Anyway we need a CL text editor. When we have one, a wave of applications will follow. For now it's pointless to write e.g. a mail client if there's no text editor.

And I just booted Genera 8.5 cold core. But I'm too sleepy now, gotta make it work tomorrow (sfvo) morning.

(with-shameless-plug )

PS i feel honored to be quoted on a kenny blog.

Kenny Tilton said...

Foo: Don't be (honored). Blogger forgot I have moderation turned on. :)

Yes, I have seen the CLIM listener. Yobbos are easily excited. Nothing to see hear, move along.

Jason said...

Totally off topic: How do I get a copy of cells? The site in the cl library page doesn't exist anymore. And do you still own the site in your profile? It looks like one of those domain name parking things.

Kenny Tilton said...

Get Cells from the CVS repository on