[Haskell-cafe] Channel9 Interview: Software Composability and theFu ture of Languages

Steve Schafer steve at fenestra.com
Fri Jan 26 14:03:09 EST 2007

On Fri, 26 Jan 2007 17:13:43 -0000 (GMT), you wrote:

>world. It also highlights some of the misconceptions that still exist and
>need to be challenged, e.g. the idea that Haskell is too hard or is
>impractical for real work.

Haskell _is_ hard, although I don't think it's _too_ hard, or I wouldn't
be here, obviously. Haskell is hard in the sense that in order to take
advantage of its ability to better solve your problems, you have to
THINK about your problems a lot more. Most people don't want to do that;
they want the quick fix served up on a platter. And even the
"intermediate" camp, the ones who are willing to invest some effort to
learn a better way, are only willing to go so far.

My analogy for this is the Sams PHOTOFACT series (If you're not old
enough to already know what these are, visit
http://www.samswebsite.com/photofacts.html). With an appropriate Sams
PHOTOFACT in hand, and some very basic skills with a voltmeter and maybe
an oscilloscope, you can diagnose and repair your TV with virtually no
understanding of electronics at all.

The audience for programming languages like Haskell is always going to
be small, because it appeals to those who want to understand how the TV
works, perhaps to the extent of being able to modify an existing TV or
even design one from scratch. And those kind of people are much fewer
and farther between than those who simply want to localize the problem
enough to be able to unplug the malfunctioning part and plug in a new

It makes sense to publicize Haskell; you can't take advantage of
something you've never heard of. But I think evangelical effort is
largely wasted. The people who are going to gravitate towards Haskell
are the ones who are already searching for something better (they just
aren't sure what it is). The rest aren't really interested, and if at
some future point they become interested, they'll find the way on their

Steve Schafer
Fenestra Technologies Corp.

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