Thursday, March 29, 2007
Brand New You're Retro
Lisp and Smalltalk are sometimes thought of as the languages of the gods. They are strange. They are esoteric. They are pure.
I'm resisting the temptation to say that "X is the new Y" as strenuously as I can, but it's a powerful temptation. Lisp and Smalltalk gurus are as famous for grudgingly refusing to ever admit defeat as they are for incredible feats of wizardry. But the reality is, if you look at the Web development landscape in 2007, Lisp and Smalltalk appear to be winning. Is this another bubble, tinier and yet stranger than the first one? The Lisp and Smalltalk in disguise bubble? Or is it something more familiar?
In the movie Aliens, there's a scene where the Marines enter the space colony, and there's one particular shot in that scene which is just a great shot of them moving down a hallway with some flashlights. Mind-numbingly simple, but you can't watch a science fiction movie made after 1986 without seeing a rehash of that moment. Even today, in 2007, there was a version of it in a recent episode of the new Battlestar Galactica.
People repeat stuff that works.
If you're working for a hip, Web 2.0 startup building stuff in Ruby on Rails with Ajax, you're very nearly working entirely in Lisp and Smalltalk. The all-in-one OS-ness of Smalltalk failed, and the fingernail-clippings-everywhere syntax of Lisp failed, but in every important respect, those languages are absolutely alive and well and living in Philadelphia.
Posted by Giles Bowkett at 1:48 AM