[Haskell] Haskell as a disruptive technology?

Paul Johnson paul at cogito.org.uk
Mon Mar 27 08:31:46 EST 2006

So far all the responses apart from the one by "jake" have taken issue 
with one or other of my assessments of Haskell's weaknesses.  Curiously, 
nobody seems to be arguing with my assessments of its strengths.

I know the feeling: Haskell is so obviously great that it becomes a kind 
of spinal reflex to defend it against even the slightest slight.  I used 
to feel that way about Eiffel, before I learned Haskell.  And we could 
have long and learned arguments about how to optimise GHC, the relative 
benefits of nhc98, wxHaskell vs Gtk2hs, and all the rest it.

But in my original post I tried to look at a broader question.  I've 
seen other excellent languages wind up as roadkill (did I mention I 
liked Eiffel?), and one thing I have learned is that trying to fight the 
incumbents on their own turf is just suicide.  You will never win, and 
it doesn't matter how long you try or how brilliant your technology is.  
There are lots of reasons for this, some good, some bad, and thats just 
the way the world is.

History has repeatedly shown that the only way you dislodge an incumbent 
technology is through the "disruptive technology" route, which would be 
better described as "disruptive marketing".  Find a niche that is not 
adequately addressed by the incumbents and establish a beachead there.  
Then move out from that base.

So I tried to summarise the Haskell "value proposition" compared to the 
incumbent languages.  Thats what it looks like to me, and I am not 
exactly ignorant on the subject, so I suggest we take it as a given for 
now and look at the real question:

Is there a market that is poorly served by the incumbent languages for 
which Haskell would be an absolute godsend?


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