[Haskell-cafe] On the verge of ... giving up!

Dipankar Ray dipankar at jfet.net
Wed Oct 17 21:16:34 EDT 2007

i fear that, at this point, this thread is a test: if I post a reply, it 
shows that I am a fool. ah well.

JK, of course there are foolish teachers out there. I don't think Felipe 
was suggesting that this teacher had the right idea, nor that he himself 
was going to stop haskelling anytime soon. But when people in relative 
power say wrong things, it makes it harder for junior colleagues (or 
students) to establish credibility, with other colleagues and students.

You may be of the opinion that such colleagues and students are fools, or 
beyond help. But I think none of us made it to the promised land of 
haskell in a vacuum - most were introduced by a friend or teacher. Seems 
to me that Felipe feels a little thwarted in his desire to pass on the 
favor to others.

Your tone suggests that it's some kind of moral weakness to want others to 
get what we're talking about, what I'd call the "what do you care what 
other people think?" philosophy. Of course, such a mindset can be very 
valuable, and we should all cultivate self-confidence.

Nevertheless, I think there's no shame in wanting other people to share in 
our joy - many of us are on this email list because we are 
mini-evangelists as well as lovers of haskell. on the whole, I think we 
evangelists can be a good thing for haskell, though of course we must be 
responsible scholars ourselves.

It's not clear to me that Einstein slept so well (for myriad reasons), and 
one can easily point to people who were geniuses and visionaries, who were 
miserable for much of their life (Cantor, Godel, Turing, etc). Aren't we 
all, to some degree, interested in creating a world where our ideas get 
more support? You mention MS Research supporting the Simons - well, MSR 
does so in part because both of them (and their colleagues at MSR 
Cambridge) are tireless evangelists, who are fantastically generous with 
their time, ideas, and code.

One way to go might be to code haskell in self-confident semi-secrecy, and 
demonstrate the wonderfulness of our ideas by the results it produces. 
This would be great. Another way to go is to teach others what is 
*already* known. I think we can all agree that today there is a vast gulf 
between what is considered "good", "professional" programming, and what is 
the state of the art in CS (and specifically PL theory) today. Hence I 
suspect that the good fight can be fought on many fronts at the same time.

On Thu, 18 Oct 2007, jerzy.karczmarczuk at info.unicaen.fr wrote:

> Felipe Lessa writes: 
>> On 10/17/07, jerzy.karczmarczuk at info.unicaen.fr
>>> We shall thus understand that a teacher who likes Fibonacci, is a
>>> representant of of the 100% of the human population.
>> Sorry if I didn't understand very well the tone of your message or if
>> I wasn't clear enough, however what I was trying to say is that he
>> makes up the mind of most of his students with the idea that Haskell
>> is a toy language with poor performance and strange limitations. 
> My tone was obviously sarcastic, and the reason is that for ANY niche
> of human activity you may find lousy teachers. And - in my eyes - you
> shouldn't have agreed on such a pathological example that 100% of the
> human population consider Haskell a toy. Haskell is being taught in
> hundreds of places. That's all. We shouldn't advertize bad teachers. 
> BTW., almost 100% of humanity don't care at all about the General Theory
> of Relativity. And *never did*. It didn't prevent Einstein from sleeping.
> Of course, this example is as silly as it is, but not more. 
> J.K. 
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