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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • Don't ignore that Paul Graham doesn't want everyone to use his language (see "Beating the averages" [paulgraham.com]. He doesn't care about everyone, and he's making this for a handful of people who know the secret handshake. It's not supposed to be easy to understand because that doesn't filter out the people he thinks shouldn't be programmers.

    • Good point. I disagree with him on that, but that's possibly due to my naive fantasy of wanting to help average developers become good developers. This might not be possible for many (most?) of them. I really don't know.

      • Superstar programmers are born, not made. I don’t think there’s any way to change that. It takes a certain mental predisposition that does not appear to be teachable; either your mind works that way or it does not.

        Nevertheless, if you look at spreadsheets, you’ll see that by reducing the minimum required ability for abstraction and increasing the amount of computation state that's tangibly visible, people with little programming skill can be empowered to harness computing machines for their own purposes.

        Another point is the one that MJD made during his Program Repair Shop and Red Flags talk at YAPC::Asia 2k7. On a slide showing some awful copypaste, he commented “You don’t have to be smart to notice this. You don’t even have to be sober.” You don’t have to be extraordinarily skilled in order to write good code; you just need to get into the habit of going back and editing once you’re done writing – just like when you write an essay.

        I don’t think there’s any cognitive dissonance in wanting skilled programmers to have powerful tools OT1H, and wanting to empower even ordinary people who have no knack for programming whatsoever to be able to extract some use out of their computers OTOH.

        • Superstar programmers are born, not made. I don’t think there’s any way to change that.

          As someone who didn't do programming until their 20s, I must call bullshit. It's sort of like the people who think that if you haven't written your first masterpiece at age 9 you can never learn to play the piano.

          It takes a certain mental predisposition that does not appear to be teachable; either your mind works that way or it does not.

          I think you have reversed the cause and effect. We teach algorithms and data structures, but we don't teach how to think like a programmer. We barely examine it, partially because we're bad at people. Partially because we have the idea that it can't be taught, so why bother trying?

          This is why