Comments on: Philosophical Noise?
REBOL Technologies

Comments on: Philosophical Noise?

Carl Sassenrath, CTO
REBOL Technologies
13-Mar-2008 20:47 GMT

Article #0353
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Various users ask me to post more philosophical-style blogs from time to time here...

While it is true I live in the philosophic zone to develop new ideas and concepts, I do not write much about that part of my life.

To me, such things can become "all talk" and "no product". You know what I mean -- especially those of you who have experienced the post-Amiga years.

Yes, as you well know from the Internet in general, and blogs in particular, talk is worth the bytes it is stored in. That is: not much. These days it is so easy to bring up a page and "blah blah blah". Even politicians can do that, and look how much they get done! Not.

Nah.... for me, you have to take action and building something. You don't get to graduate to the doer class unless you actually produce something. And, it can even be in the ethereal realm of software, that's ok. Be Skype, EBay, OSX, or even MySpace. That's what really moves the world.

I guess I've always been twisted backward in this way.

While at HP in the early 1980's I proposed to our entire computer division (General Systems Division, the 400 person R&D lab that built HP3000 computers) that we have fewer and shorter meetings and spend more time working on products. (Of course, I also suggested that we fire 75% of the staff and pay the rest four times greater salaries. I probably should not mention that.)

In the mid-1980's I enjoyed working at Amiga Computer! We had one meeting every few months or so. The rest of the time we just worked (and ate pizza of course) and built that fabulous personal computer that was a decade ahead of its time.

Then, at Apple Computer in late 1980's... well, that was a nightmare for sure. During a 50 hour work week we had 45 hours of meetings. Nothing ever got done, but meetings were "satisfying" to the team (except me) because they felt things were getting done... even though nothing was getting done. I'd sometimes skip meetings, but then they'd say "Carl, please don't skip the meetings." As if something important actually happened there.

Of course, that was a different time for Apple. These days, judging by how many products they get out the door, it must be much better. More "do" and less "meet". One would hope, dream so.

Ok, so what was my point here? Am I just blah, blah, blahing? I think so. But, hey, you asked for it. A few of you did.

I guess next time, I should write about something philosophically more important. Maybe talk about software system dependency and non-dependency, and how the world may be doomed even before the ocean water rises a CM, if we don't change some things.

Now there's a golden topic! But, unfortunately, I have products to make.




13-Mar-2008 14:56:30
About meetings at Apple, I just happened to read this interesting article an hour ago, about how they hold meetings today.
Brian Tiffin
13-Mar-2008 20:47:55
It's nice at large corporations, with teenie cubicles and grand meeting rooms a train trip away. Rooms for meetings all run by some guy, Robert Loblaw, a guy everyone calls Bob; Bob Loblaw.
13-Mar-2008 21:07:37
Well said.
14-Mar-2008 8:29:05
About apple,no mention of iphone until now. They are searching new apps for their toy. What about you? Iphone:Is it product or speech? I am waiting for you.
14-Mar-2008 12:16:44
The company I work for is not that big, but they act as if they were. I know these meetings were people try to debate on if we should do something or not... big waste of time... Also felt sometimes that we could be better paid and get less people, but Human Ressources like us being numbers. We should be exchangeable ressource, right? They don't want to evaluate how much you know, if you are a 10 years experienced or a 6 months outsourced ressource. Anyway, good to know I'm not the only one having these feelings, but as you said Carl, let's Do rather than talk.
16-Mar-2008 3:07:12
Read the book "Speed Lead". That's a good start to change it.

I'm getting quite radical on not attending meetings, not reading CC mails etc. do the same. It works if you can stand some strange views...

16-Mar-2008 12:18:13
I was just saying that "If powerpoint were a programming language, more people would be able to walk on water", and a friend pointed me to this page. And I agree with you, because when I'm in that mood, i usually say:

Judge a man by his actions rather than his word.

Greg Schofield
16-Mar-2008 15:02:04
"While it is true I live in the philosophic zone to develop new ideas and concepts, I do not write much about that part of my life."

There are two aspects to this: 1) the personal musings and speculations absolutely necessary to innovative development [thought before action for self].

2) The exposition of underlying ideas clearly stated so that others can follow what has happened [thought making action clear to others].

There remains a problem for REBOL in department 2. It is not necessarily Carl's responsibility, but it takes a good deal of conceptual knowledge to make clear and simple complex things, without also becoming misleading.

REBOL does things differently, so differently that it is frankly, in many aspects, mysterious. Getting a bit of script working is one thing, and easy, but understanding what is going on and how it is doing things is very confusing, at least for me.

Yes, as I code more that will clarify.

But if REBOL is to be successful as it deserves, it cannot rely on experienced programmers and semi-professional scriptors to take it up. It needs to be the language of choice for complete novices.

Even a sleight acquaintance with command/function languages becomes misleading (at least to my mind) when approaching REBOL, it seems more of an active array (I am not sure that even makes sense), or a pointer language (probably even more off the mark).

At a very basic level REBOL differs from anything else I have used, and I am completely in the dark to where the difference actually lies.

Making REBOL easy to master (rather than just learn bit by bit) requires a clear conceptual approach to the exposition of the language. This sort of philosophizing is very much needed.

Sorry for the long post, but to use one simple example that still confuses me, is VID, I understand it to be dialect (no problem), that is invoked by function calls even less of a problem). But how? And where? And how does such a dialect call the actual graphic functions?

This may be easily explained, I have probably missed some clear explanation and I am not asking for a technical explanation. What I am missing is a clear concept of the language as REBOL instead of understanding parts of the language by reference to things more familiar which can be very misleading.

The other thing is that requires, not more graphic explanation, even less powerpoint slides, it requires some carefully chosen words, abstract but also precise - something that will be no easy thing to create.

Ideally it should be so clear that complete novices will read it and say to themselves "Ah so that is how scripting works" [Notice I said scripting and not REBOL].

17-Mar-2008 17:16:26
I agree with you. You've got the doers, and the look gooders. Wozniak was the doer, and Jobs the look gooder. Unfortunately corporations seem to be run by the look gooders rather than by the doers. The doers achieve recognition by their creations, the look gooders achieve recognition in meetings. People want software that works, not powerpoint presentations... or people that fall off the stage trying to ride in on a motorcycle.
Carl Read
18-Mar-2008 0:04:46
Yes, it's important to actually create something, as apposed to just talk. However, having created, you then need to convince the world why they need your creation. That's when the philosophizing is needed. And if you don't do it, others will, and so your baby will be defined by others. A recent example from the article here...

"The obvious thing to do is to create a dense programming language that server and client understand. This has been done a few times (Rebol comes to mind), but the purveyors all want to 'own' that network. The marketplace has rightly rejected that."

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