Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Not Blubbing

I've been trying to get my mind around Haskell for the past little while. That's not a link to Haskell.org, incidentally, but the way people talk about it, Learn You A Haskell For Great Good may as well be the official site. It's referenced so commonly that people usually call it LYAH. The learning process is not easy going, I have to tell you. Probably because it's both the first statically typed, and the first purely functional language I've tried seriously to learn (as you can see by the logo array above). I'm going to keep at it; this isn't anywhere near the first brick wall I've attempted to headbutt through, but I'm observing some disturbing patterns in my thoughts, and I need to get them out.

It's surprising how tempting it is to say "bah, these Monads aren't worth my time; what do I need them for?"

The same thoughts commonly arise about strong typing and purity; it's really really tempting to drop the learning and just run back to Common Lisp/Erlang/Ruby for my programming purposes. The trouble is, this is precisely where the Blub Paradox strikes. Ok, yes fair, I can say "How can these Haskellers get anything done without macros?", but the thoughts I'm having are surprisingly similar to "This is just like Common Lisp, except for all this weird, hairy stuff I don't understand".

I'm not afraid of looking up the hierarchy, it's just unsettling that I can't tell and may be lulling myself into a false sense of superiority. The worst possible outcome here is that my internal biases rob me of power I might otherwise wield. A bad, but certainly tolerable outcome is "wasting" the time it takes to learn new concepts and techniques that are merely as effective (or slightly less effective) than ones I already know. The best case is clambering through the motivational dip to find new techniques I can apply to unilaterally improve my projects, both professional and personal.

Looking at it that way, it's pretty obvious that the correct (but admittedly, seemingly insane) answer is to keep hitting this wall with my head, and hope it collapses before I do.

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