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Re: Where is Emacs Lisp taught ?

From: Gene
Subject: Re: Where is Emacs Lisp taught ?
Date: Tue, 30 Oct 2018 12:30:48 -0700 (PDT)
User-agent: G2/1.0

On Sunday, October 28, 2018 at 3:05:32 AM UTC-4, Alan wrote:
> First, I am not a programmer. I have a different perspective.  

> I see Elisp as an integral component of Emacs---the Extensible Self 
> Documenting  Editor.  
> That is the very core of it.  This is sets itself apart from any
> other editor.  

> I will never be an expert at lisp, but I can extend Emacs
> while referring to documentation of the editor and Elisp, all at my
> fingertips.  

> It is a stroke of brilliance, just one of the  reasons I am
> grateful for the work of Richard Stallman.

We can certainly be grateful that he followed the lead of *someone else* who 
first pimped out the emacs of day with a lisp REPL.


I suppose that somebody wanting to add a lisp to a text editor today might 
attempt to shoe-horn in s7 scheme, script fu, or such.
> Emacs fell into my hands unexpectedly, just when I seriously needed a tool
> for my project developing a lexicon of animal names in a Pacific language
> complex.  

Alas, if only Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson had emacs available during 
their field work in the Pacific!

> I was looking for an editor that I could make a simple macro to
> type letters with diacritical marks.  Multi-Edit seems to me to work just
> fine.  It was all I had, provided to me by a linguist.  

> The trial version was "free", in dollars and cents terms; 
> yet it was a form of cripple ware:
> to get the full use of it would require a manual, which would cost 350.00,
> an impossible sum for me.   

> Emacs came with an amazing manual.
> I had seen the very name of the Free Software Foundation, and, not knowing
> anything about it's purpose or cause, I wrote to request some free
> software.  

> I lived on an isolated island, so it took some time before I
> received a package with 13  3-1/2" disks, with a port of Emacs to Windows
> 3, called Demacs, and a suite of unix utilities ported to Windows 3 by
> Cygnus, if I recall correctly.  

> This was in about 1992.  Unix tools were
> perfect for my intended project of "digitizing" a growing body of data on
> animal names.  Sort and string manipulation utilities were most welcome.

> So I had a toolkit of unimaginable utility, perfectly suited to my need.
> Elisp was part and parcel of it all.  I had some limited familiarity with
> computers, so I was able to work my way though the documentation---all of
> it included as part of Emacs, and available just when one needed it.  This
> is another part of the brilliant scheme that is Emacs: the TexInfo
> documentation could not be easier to use.
> I haven't told this story often enough, but it is beside the point.  

> The point is the Elisp is integrated with the editor, 
> making it quite unique in my experience.  

> It can be learned independently, absent any course, though
> I admit I have struggled to learn the little that I have, and to do
> complicated things I needed help.  

> I would think that a course in Elisp would be extremely interesting.  

I'm thinking that `a' one-size-fits-all course couldn't possibly 
be as useful to one and all using a domain-specific language capable
of such a broad spectrum of domains spread out before some a broad spectrum
of users.

When I'm trying to `sell' emacs to those weened-on and accustomed-to Word 
processors, GUIs with Pull-down menus, and such I not only do NOT pitch elisp 
as a selling feature, I recommend they use nothing BUT the pull-down menus for 
the first 3 weeks for fear that the command-line like minibuffer used with M-x 
will scare them away and back to something more `User friendly' ... EG GUIized 
pull-down menued touch screen stuff ... just like they are now imprinted-upon.

> First, one needs to find a young person
> whose interests align well with the tool.

As contrasted with old dogs dating their emacs back to '92?
I was using UEdit and micro-Emacs on a Commodore Amiga back then; neither had 
Though a year later I was using AMXlisp on the Amiga to do assignments in 
course in which fellow students were using common lisp.

> Enough said.  Too much.

Not enough!

What personal preferences, factors, and preferences do you imagine could be 
factored into lessons customizable to a broad assortment of humanity?

We have multiple intelligences tests now, which transcend reductionist 
single-number IQ.
We have an assortment of temperament tests which seemingly would allow some 
dispatching code  elisp itself could use to present someone/anyone with a 
temperamental orientation and multiple intelligences configuration with a 
lesson apropos for that particular student.

> Alan Davis

Thanks for the period piece, Alan!

Now I'm wondering if a quarter century from now a comparable personal account 
will appear which starts with something like, "It was 2018 and I and my friends 
were not as smart as our phones.  A true friend turned us on to something retro 
... this ancient text editor which some MIT hackers started in the previous 
century. ...."

I'm painfully aware that those of us in the 70's, 80's, and 90's didn't have 
the glut of free and/or dirt cheep `apps' which the modern touch screen users 
have available.
I'm thinking that emacs, gnutils, and such are going to be a hard sell for 
those spoiled by touch screens, GUI OSes, and the inability to touch type.

As much as I'd like to see mainstream folk using emacs and elisp, I've noticed 
the chasm between those of us qualifying as literate or semi-literate and the 
point-and-click `geniuses' expanding beyond capacity to quantum leap ... let 
alone their interest.

Thanks again!

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