Lispian Random meanderings on whatever catches my fancy

Quotes from Alan Kay

I’ve been enjoying the 1997 OOPSLA Keynote by Alan Kay, The Computer Revolution Hasn’t Happened Yet, and a few choice paraphrased quotes popped out of him.

  • The main point of doing any programming work is that there must be some exquisite blend between beauty and practicality. There is no need to sacrifice either one of those. And people who are willing to sacrifice either one of those don’t really get what computing is all about.
  • I invented the term Object-Oriented, and I can tell you I did not have C++ in mind.
  • HTML has taken us back to the dark ages wherein it presupposes a browser that understands its formats. This has to be one of the worst ideas since MS-DOS.
  • Objects can act like anything!
  • The most pernicious thing about languages like C++ and Java is that they think they’re helping the programmer by looking as much like the old thing as possible but they’re hurting the programmer terribly by making it difficult to understand what’s powerful in this new metaphor.
  • A language that essentially forces you to develop outside of the language, requires you to compile and reload, is a dead end for building complex systems.
  • The Internet from the time it started running to this day has expanded by a factor of 100,000,000 and as far as anyone can tell there is not one physical atom in the Internet today that was in the original ARPANET. And, there is not one line of code that was in the original ARPANET that is in the Internet today.
  • The Internet is a system that has replaced every line of code and every bit across 30 years and never had to stop.
  • When we think programming is small, that’s why your programs become big. That’s why you get pyramids instead of Gothic cathedrals.
  • How does Java expect to survive if it has no meta system, no way to load new things on the fly.
  • The more the language can see its own structures the more liberated you can be from the tyranny of any single implementation.
  • We don’t know how to build systems, yet.

Sure, it may be 13 years old, but sadly much of it still holds true. And not much having changed means he could give this talk again and everyone would nod their heads at the sad state of the computer industry.

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May 2010
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