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Re: [O] Wolfram Language versus org mode literate

From: Tom Slee
Subject: Re: [O] Wolfram Language versus org mode literate
Date: Fri, 28 Feb 2014 13:29:59 -0500

I don't know that I agree with all of this,  but I'm definitely  glad I read it. Thanks for posting.


On 2014-02-28 12:53 PM, "Lawrence Bottorff" <address@hidden> wrote:
Back when I was younger (half an hour ago?) I would have been wowed by this: http://youtu.be/_P9HqHVPeik which is Stephen Wolfram's intro into his new Wolfram language. But what puts me (way) off is -- once again -- I'm supposedly doing all these great things, but not with any sort of accounting for what's being done. Kein Protokoll. No Story.

The nature of functional programming is to build, Russian doll-style, functions that use functions that use functions etc. But without something like a literate style, your efforts are quickly lost in the details. You do stuff -- and unless you have a phenomenal memory, you've simply dug a nice, deep tunnel that is, at the same time, collapsing behind you. You may know what you've done, but how to make others aware and get them involved? All they see is some collapsed tunnel with a sales pitch about how you should go re-dig that very same tunnel.

Typically, with "software projects" you have hierarchical teams that plan what the "project" is and what it will do and who will do what. Again, it's just the tunneling with a bit less collapsing going on behind the actual shoveling. So far, software is all about drilling into the problem, writing a bunch of code, then flogging a group of users on how to use it. No Story. Just tunneling, with varying degrees of tunnel passageway, depending on how much effort is put into shoveling by coders and their users. But this is a hopeless model that cannot scale.

How many billions of lines of code are out there . . . basically lost to everyone -- even the creator? Libraries, modules? Sure, and yet the whole effort at Wolfram seems only to be taking librarian duties to the next level. But still, where's The Story? Coding, solving problems needs a Story to go along with it. I don't think computing will advance until The Story is woven into the actual coding. Yes, functional is probably a step up from OO, (Smalltalkers don't agree), but it still doesn't tell a Story. It's just more powerful tunneling equipment.

Humanity is The Big Story, which, in turn, is broken down into very many sub-Stories. We're Story-oriented. Code so far is not. Code is like networks of tunnels where, for all intents and purposes, most of the tunneling has already collapsed, the tunnel paths mostly unknowable. What makes me so excited about org mode is that it's the first time I've seen literate programming move a tick up into the realm of actually creating a tellable Story.

At some point in the future, you will tell a Story. The Story may be how you created an inventory system, or tracked moose in the wild. Others -- human or machine -- on hearing your Story may then want to weave it into their Stories. Now, what I see Wolfram doing is just making The Ultimate Library, one with enough AI to obviate lots of library browsing. But there's still no Story. org mode, however, has the rudiments of being able to finally tell Stories. Ein schoenes Protokoll! Amen!

Lawrence Bottorff
North Shore MN

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