opening it up with Common Lisp

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Book review: Darwinia
Reviewed: Friday, August 11, 2006

Summer reading: Spin
Reviewed: Saturday, August 5, 2006

Runner
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the Golem's Eye
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tinderbox
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GBBopen
Thursday, September 16, 2004

Though I ported it to both MCL and OpenMCL a while ago, I've just recently begun to actually use GBBopen, an open source blackboard framework. One way to think of GBBopen is that it combines a nice set of general Lisp utilities, a greatly enhanced class definition language, an in memory database and an opportunistic control mechanism into a synergistic whole. It's very nicely put together (and beautifully written; Dan Corkill knows his Lisp and his MOP and it's great fun to read such cool code!) but it's never easy to learn the ins and outs of a new framework.

I know that each time I learn a new way of expressing myself, I find myself knowing what I want to say and even roughly how to say it but still banging my head up against the tightly bound constraints of syntax. Moving beyond this to fluency is part of the joy of learning something new — I hope we can all remember how great it feels to go from struggling with a language / framework (let's flip through that manual again, shall we...) to being able to sit down and just write. Part of this is learning the idioms (syntactic patterns) of the language. Part of it is being willing to keep experimenting even after you've found a way to do something in the search for a better way of doing the same thing! As an aside, I find this facet of language learning and learning in general to be deeply confusing: how do we know that there is a better way? What is it again a problem situation that leads us to think that we can improve?

I'm going to stop writing here because I'm feeling a bit sick and very foggy. I'll keep you updated on my progress.


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