[Haskell-cafe] What is a hacker?
benjamin.franksen at bessy.de
Thu Dec 14 11:45:45 EST 2006
On Thursday 14 December 2006 07:34, Kirsten Chevalier wrote:
> On 12/14/06, Benjamin Franksen <benjamin.franksen at bessy.de> wrote:
> > Kirsten Chevalier wrote:
> > > (Since, of course,
> > > one should never apply the term "hacker" to oneself.)
> > Who told you that?
> The Jargon File. But yes, I can anticipate more or less all of the
> possible responses to *that*, and, point taken.
I was a bit surprised when I went to check this. I had expected the
Jargon File to clearly support my view, but it doesn't, at least not
Anyway, no sense to keep bickering, since we seem to agree perfectly.
[snip points we in fact agree on]
> Speaking of the term "hacker" and of various subcultures, the way in
> which Haskell and the open-source community seem to have met each
> other this year just makes me melt with joy.
Absolutely, it's a wonderful thing to witness.
> I know it wasn't like
> that six years ago; the Haskell community was small, and there wasn't
> exactly such a thing as the "open-source community" (and please let's
> not have a "free software" vs. "open source" debate, because I've
> heard that all before, too). I don't know exactly what happened in
> the meantime, besides the miracle of this vast series of tubes that
> we cann the Internet, but someone should really be writing a
> sociology paper about it.
Good idea. The difficulty is to find social science people who are not
only interested (there are many of those) but who are also adept enough
in computer science to understand what is so special about Haskell
(considering that even most professionals in the field have
difficulties with that).
I think one of the most important aspects of the story is that Haskell
has become extremely 'sexy'. There are two important aspects to this:
One is that it opens up new possibilities for individuals that were
formerly closed to them. The two most prominent projects written in
Haskell (darcs and Pugs) have both been started by a single person
undertaking a project that would otherwise (i.e. without Haskell) have
been just too complex to realize. (David Roundy once said that the C++
version he started with had after a while "amassed a solid number of
bugs", so he gave up on it and started a re-implemention in Haskell
(which clearly hasn't met the same fate).) With Haskell complex things
become manageable for individuals again, and this opens whole new areas
in the "noosphere" to conquer.
The other point is that Haskell -- apart from its utility to solve
complex new programming problems -- is also a wonderful playground for
people who like to experiment with new technology. Witness all the new
ideas that employ type level programming, something you simply can't do
with any other language I am aware of, at least not while at the same
time doing practical stuff with it.
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