In case you thought Lisp was dead …

Two days ago I went to the largest usergroup meeting of any kind I have ever seen. It was the Boston Lisp Meeting (although it should be called the Cambridge Lisp Meeting, IMO). There were about 40 people in attendance, and when I left (at 22:00, four hours after my arrival), it still rivaled any usergroup in size.

With 40 people, the sitting-around-a-table-drinking-beer format is perhaps not the most effective. Sure, there is plenty of conversation to be a part of, but any single participant necessarily misses the majority of what\’s going on. So, I apologize at the beginning that this can not be a comprehensive report, but rather an experiential summary of what I observed that fateful evening.

I showed up at 18:00, with probably over twenty people bulging from a single long table. Almost everyone who came after me ended up filling a second table. I took note of a few big names right off the bat (from #lisp and elsewhere): Rahul Jain (who traveled from New York) had come with me, and certainly Faré (our great organizer) was already there. Jeremy Jones (a founder of Clozure) and James Knight (foom) were also there before me. Alistair Bridgewater (aka, nyef) trekked down from New Hampshire, but I think Hans Hübner won the longest-distance award, having come all the way from Berlin. Ok, this list is getting crazy … there were also other well-known lispers in attendance. Gary King was supposed to have been there, but I didn\’t see (or perhaps recognize) him. Both Zach Beane and dto had to miss because of transportation issues, which was quite disappointing.

I was afraid the group would be dominated by ITA employees, but I think they made up maybe a quarter of the entire group. None of the guys near me at the beginning were ITA employees, in fact, I think they were all Lisp hobbyists. As a result, there is always plenty of discussion about how to go about making Lisp your profession, which is a topic I do like to talk about. One of my favorite questions was \”If you get to write Lisp at work all day, do you work in other languages when you get home?\” The answer is pretty much \”no\” … at least, I don\’t play with other languages any more than I did before I was writing Lisp professionally.

Later on in the night I moved around the table to see what was happening at Faré\’s end. There seemed to be a lot of discussion about when meetings should be held, and how to organize them, etc., which is great to hear. We\’ll be moving to a more presentation-oriented format, and I\’m sure Faré will have all the details about future meetings sent around soon. There was an XO laptop that got passed around so everyone could enter in their contact information and how they would like to be involved with future mettings. So there ended up being a bit of discussion about the XOs, and who managed to get one (like me) and who didn\’t.

Toward the end of the night, I got around the table to talk with Rahul and another of my co-workers, and had the chance to finally meet Alistair. Unfortunately, I had to leave shortly after we began talking … and he will be farther away than NH for the next few months because of various contracts he\’s working on. Hopefully he\’ll come to meetings when he\’s back in the region.

I know … there\’s not much Lisp content in this post. Honestly, it\’s hard to remember exactly what was discussed. The meeting was great for getting to know more Lispers, and there was plenty of Lisp talk, but my focus at the time was more on having a good time (and some beers) with people that I have a lot in common with. There will be plenty of in-depth Lisp-hackery at future presentation-based meetings. For now I\’m just excited about there being so many people here who are interested in it.

3 Responses to “In case you thought Lisp was dead …”

  1. Matt Keller Says:

    Greg – it was good talking to you at the meeting. FYI – I linked to this post from my own Boston Lisp post.

    Is there anybody else out there who sat on our end of the table? ;-)

  2. Lou Franco Says:

    Can you send around a notice to the group about the Clojure presentation coming to Northampton, MA on March 20th. Rich Hickey will be presenting. Details here:

    http://wmassdevs.com/wordpress/2008/02/28/clojure-talk-with-rich-hickey-on-march-20/

  3. John Cardente Says:

    Greg, it was great to meet you and thanks for sharing your experiences with us Lisp hobbyists! See you at the April meeting..

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