Keep Up that Racket!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010 :: Tagged under: pablolife. ⏰ 2 minutes.

Hey! Thanks for reading! Just a reminder that I wrote this some years ago, and may have much more complicated feelings about this topic than I did when I wrote it. Happy to elaborate, feel free to reach out to me! 😄

PLT Scheme, formerly my favorite Scheme implementation and mentioned before in my writings, has been re-branded as Racket. I'm very excited about this: Racket is a language of unbelievable potential, and hopefully it's re-branding will make people aware of this.

(while it is just a name change and new website, I doubt Clojure would have gotten it's momentum if it were just called "JVM Lisp").

One of the wonderful things about Racket is its mailing list, and a cute discussion there generated a major treasure. Namely, someone brought up that computer programming isn't really that related to computer science, to which someone else mentioned that you could very much be a successful programmer even if you haven't studied the science.

This is sadly true (many people making their livings don't know what they're doing, many examples at The Daily WTF), but then a user named Joe Marshall simply wins:

It's quite possible to be a productive and successful programmer without having a solid understanding of computer science.

That's the problem. Maybe it shouldn't be the case. Variations on this statement are alarming:

"It's quite possible to be a productive and successful physician without having a solid understanding of medicine."

"It's quite possible to be a productive and successful airplane engineer without having a solid understanding of aerodynamics."

'Rocket Scientist' : 'Newtonian physics'

'Brain Surgeon' : 'neurology'

I attribute this more to the fact that we're living in the cave-writing stages of software: we've had computers for fewer than 70 years, personal computers for maybe 30, and connectivity for less. I'm sure after the invention of the steam engine, all sorts of idiots were designing inefficient, dangerous factories, and we've now got the software equivalent.

I'm lucky in that I got to study the science, and am genuinely interested in it to keep learning. But what a wonderful day when people who develop software who know at least what I do will come standard.

Thanks for the read! Disagreed? Violent agreement!? Feel free to join my mailing list, drop me a line at , or leave a comment below! I'd love to hear from you 😄