November 08, 2006

jens liebchen

It's a few weeks old, but I liked Zach Beane's post to comp.lang.lisp about “Aha! moments.”

I always like to read specific accounts of this sort of thing, but his description of the themes and his advice are great:

A few themes:

   - Despite conceptually understanding how tools like CLOS and
     closures and conditions work, it took a tricky problem solved
     neatly by the tool to really make an Aha! moment

   - Aha! moments have made complicated tasks simpler and
     unapproachable tasks approachable (given the right amount of time
     and effort). They take the magic out of things. (Philip Greenspun
     used to say that his course would teach undergrads how to build
     Amazon in a semester; despite the hyperbole, it really did take
     the mystery out of how useful web applications can be


   - Be actively curious about how interesting things work ("how can
     cl-ppcre be faster than Perl?")

   - Be broadly aware of the tools available, and don't worry about
     immediate application

   - Don't settle for tedium (it's hard to have a breakthrough if you
     have resigned yourself to something that feels substandard)

   - People who write one interesting thing usually keep it up; find
     and watch interesting people (trickle-down Aha! effect?)
Posted by jjwiseman at November 08, 2006 03:21 PM
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