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Re: A possible solution?

This page is part of the web mail archives of SRFI 44 from before July 7th, 2015. The new archives for SRFI 44 contain all messages, not just those from before July 7th, 2015.

On Thu, 30 Oct 2003 scgmille@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:

>On Thu, Oct 30, 2003 at 07:42:56AM -0800, Bradd W. Szonye wrote:

>> Why assume that it will become obsolete? If it does, a new SRFI can
>> specify how to upgrade. In the meantime, collection library implementors
>> have a portable extension mechanism that they can actually use.
>Because it will.  Scheme systems right now have dispatch mechanisms.
>Thats a fact.  It makes much more sense for this SRFI to integrate with
>those.  But we can't do that without a portable, pervasive dispatch
>system.  I suspect this will be standardized eventually, and when it
>does, collections should integrate with it.  Specifying a dispatch
>mechanism with this SRFI means that this SRFI has a limited lifetime
>before it has to be patched or abandonned.

   I met a traveller from an antique land,
   Who said -- "two vast and trunkless legs of stone
   Stand in the desert ... near them, on the sand,
   Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
   And wrinkled lips, and sneer of cold command,
   Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
   Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
   The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
   And on the pedestal these words appear:
   My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings,
   Look on my Works ye Mighty, and despair!
   Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
   Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
   The lone and level sands stretch far away."
           -- Percy B. Shelley

It's a nice bit of poetry, isn't it?  The fact of the matter is
that everything becomes obsolete.  Ozymandias probably thought
he'd built something that would never become obsolete, but...
well.  Time marches on.

If I understand you correctly, what you are looking for is
mindshare.  You have an _Idea_, something you believe should
inform all future design, and you want to give it a _Realization_
that makes its usefulness apparent.

But Plato figured out thousands of years ago that purely Ideal
things cannot exist.  Nothing can exist without taking a concrete
form. The spirit, or Ideal Platonic thing, that refuses to take
on the limitations of a particular concrete embodiment cannot
come into the Real world.

But any particular Real thing is only an approximation of the
Ideal; there will always be unrealized potentials, because the
concrete embodiment chosen must be one thing, and not all the
other things it could have been.  Thus, things which are of the
real world, without exception, pass away.  Even scheme itself
is only one Realization of the Ideal of programming languages,
and will pass away or change beyond recognition in time.
Nothing that can exist in scheme can be immune to obsolescence.

Now, if you want your Idea to come into the real world, it has
to have a concrete form.  That concrete form will eventually
pass away.  But the Idea, if it is a good one, will be carried
forward, realized in other forms, adopted and reimplemented as
a design, and do what you want it to do - ie, inform all future

Ozymandias, perhaps, is nearly forgotten, but the Ideal of
which he was a single incarnation has certainly found others;
empire builders and military dictatorships have been with us
forever; they are enduring ideas.

Now, I'm still convinced that this is a one-size-fits-none
proposal for making generic interfaces to things which are
different for good reasons. But if you have an Idea and you
want to give it a Realization that makes its usefulness
apparent, you have to Realize it in some particular form
which people can use.

Right now relying on dispatch mechanisms that don't exist
yet (or aren't universal and uniform yet) is not "a particular
form that people can use."  Relying on vectors is.