Either somebody’s playing an awfully elaborate practical joke or the popular media is a lot geekier that I thought it would be. But when I had Harry Potter on the brain this morning and went to check the blogosphere buzz about the Amazon.com bestseller’s list, I was stunned to see “Lisp in Small Pieces” as the #2 bestseller.
You know, Lisp, the geeky programming language with the funny name idolized by computer science eggheads everywhere? Yes, (car (cdr Amazon-bestseller-list)) returns a book about Lisp programming today.
If Lisp is so wonderful, how come nobody uses it for anything significant? Even if Richard Stallman has said “LISP being the most powerful and cleanest of languages, that’s the language that the GNU project always prefers.”, at least 95% of the GNU-licensed software you’ll find out there is not written in Lisp. The biggest place you see Lisp happening is the interpreter in the Emacs editor and a variant of Lisp, known as Scheme, used to write plug-ins for the Gimp. After that, there’s Paul Graham, who’s as close to a Lisp missionary as you can get.
Lisp seems to be more of an ideal to strive for. It’s been said many times that while we don’t use Lisp itself, half the programming languages out there today implement Lisp’s ideas in some measure. But I think I still won’t take it seriously until I actually see a deployment for every article praising it. Until then, it’s going to retain the mystique of the Unicorn – not to be found in the wild, but with thousands of fans worldwide anyway.
- The Programming Languages Zoo
- Programming FAQ
- Vintage Computing – part 2
- The Lisp Language (or: Time to get sadistic again)
- The C Language