๐Ÿด Elm, forks, Tiger King ๐Ÿ…

Thursday, April 9, 2020 :: Tagged under: blurb culture pablolife. โฐ 5 minutes.

๐ŸŽต The song for this post is Mambo Mucho Mambo, by Machito and his Afro-Cuban Orchestra. ๐ŸŽต

Elm logo

Reading "Why I'm Leaving Elm," it's interesting that I read this line (on Elm forbidding you from writing part of a library in JavaScript):

The restriction causes huge problems for lots of other people too. For example, if there is a bug in any core library, or something missing, you just have to wait for the core team to fix it, rather than being able to fix it yourself.

which is exactly the use case Lispers point to when they talk about Why Lisp Is Superior: "in any other language, if you're missing a feature, you have to wait and hope the language standards body discusses it, ratifies it, and implements it. In Lisp with macros, you can write the language you want!!!" but also the community most resembling (from the outside) the Elm one and the criticisms that post invokes is Clojure, with its "Rich is smarter than you, if you want it and Rich doesn't, you're probably wrong," and "we'll fix it, if we feel like, when we feel like it" in response to issues with it. And Clojure is a Lisp!

The lack of adoption/growth of Clojure and Lisps is a much wider topic, I just had a strong reaction when I read that ๐Ÿ‘†

My personal experience with Elm is bad. In 2014-2016 I tried 3 weekends, each 6-7 hours, to get basic projects up with it, and while I could follow the tutorials, anytime I did anything interesting, I got hit by obstacles that made me think "Jesus, set me free." One was building an app piece-by-piece with The Elm Architecture and when I tried to add a call it required changing ~9 files.

And look: I have a high, high pain tolerance for weird tech. I've invested dozens of hours in OCaml, wrote Erlang in 2010 before the first rebar. I'm not perfect, but if I've invested tens of hours into your paradigm and still feel like I can't make small changes in a straightforward way, something is hobbled here. Which ties into the most grating part: every time I had a want and read docs, the main message I got contained massive amounts of "isn't this so much nicer?!?" while not answering my question or empowering me as a developer. It felt like playing tennis with the ladies of Stepford.

It's true that when I did get it to work, it did the FP thing of working about as you'd expect, with static checks to tell you when/if something breaks, and the niceties of immutability and one-way data flow. But I'd consider Bucklescript or Purescript if you want that on the frontend.

Re: open source and forkability:

Threatening a person with exclusion from a community for attempting to patch the source code is quite antithetical to the spirit of Open Source, as far as I can see. It is the opposite of behaviour youโ€™ll see in other Open Source projects. For example, Dropbox created their own Python 2 fork without the smallest thought of needing to apologise for such behaviour, and multiple competing implementations are considered healthy.

I'm not someone who maintains popular open source projects, but I disagree. XEmacs was famously divisive. IO.js (fork of Node) was divisive. The creation of Free Software, a predecessor to Open Source, was divisive. And a fork of Python 2 is not my favorite example: Dropbox hired Guido! They were probably blessed to do it, and we know they have at least 4m lines of Python and are not a bunch of open-source maintainers, they're paid full-time employees.

I'd like if all projects were open to forks, and I recognize the author wanted to release a patch for people to try rather than start a war to fork all of Elm. But my understanding is that big forks often looked like war, just for someone who wants to fight a longer battle. I agree with the author that hostility to the patch is probably Bad For Elm.

IO.js logo XEmacs open screen

Great moments in forking history.

The last subtopic this reminds me of is "why I'm leaving [X]" posts, which are a fun exercise. I had a friend who called himself "a member of the "More Blood" school of theater," and I'm a proud member of the "more humanity" school of computing. It's often messy but I never deny a window, no matter how dirty or ill-shaped, into the minds and experiences of people who are doing things. The original linked post is thorough. It's considered. It's someone who's lived through a lot. It's good to commemorate time and focus with an artifact.

There are good ways and bad ways of doing this. If you've got examples of good or bad "leaving X" posts, feel free to leave them in the comments ๐Ÿ™‚

Tiger King

Karen and I watched Tiger King. It's entertaining for sure, but I felt the way I tend to feel about true-crime whispery podcasts or murder documentaries: it feels voyeuristic and titillating because most of the people watching aren't remembering that this shit is real. Like, we know that intellectually, and that it's real makes it more fun! But seeing a worker lose an arm at the job and be expected to come back the next day, smiling: I don't care man, it's extremely fucked up.

My favorite article on it is Samantha Allen's Joe Exotic is not your gay icon:

if thereโ€™s one lesson we should have learned by 2020, itโ€™s this: To be fascinated by a narcissist is to already be fooled by one. To film one is to give them a great gift. [...]

the danger of Tiger King โ€” and the many similar documentaries of recent years that closely track the actions of narcissists, from Netflixโ€™s Wild Wild Country to Huluโ€™s Frye Fraud โ€” is that they inevitably aestheticize people who have caused horrific hurt, especially when they are knowingly released into a social media economy eager to generate GIFs and brainstorm Halloween costumes.

Someone we know from professional connections said "the thing about Tiger King is that you don't know anybody like [the people in that documentary]!," and I couldn't relate to that. Toxic men? Charming narcissists who want to be treated like cult leaders? I know plenty, I don't need more. Poor people, and/or those who didn't grow up in a rich ZIP code? I believe many in my circles don't know many, but this wasn't new to me either.

I don't want to say you can't or shouldn't enjoy shit; I also, in spite of feeling everything I'm writing here, enjoyed it! But that wasn't the whole experience I had.

Thanks for the read! Disagreed? Violent agreement!? Feel free to drop me a line at , or leave a comment below! I'd love to hear from you ๐Ÿ˜„