The Rise of Worse is Better

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Style Pass
2021-07-23 00:00:07

I and just about every designer of Common Lisp and CLOS has had extreme exposure to the MIT/Stanford style of design. The essence of this style can be captured by the phrase the right thing. To such a designer it is important to get all of the following characteristics right:

I believe most people would agree that these are good characteristics. I will call the use of this philosophy of design the MIT approach. Common Lisp (with CLOS) and Scheme represent the MIT approach to design and implementation.

Early Unix and C are examples of the use of this school of design, and I will call the use of this design strategy the New Jersey approach. I have intentionally caricatured the worse-is-better philosophy to convince you that it is obviously a bad philosophy and that the New Jersey approach is a bad approach.

However, I believe that worse-is-better, even in its strawman form, has better survival characteristics than the-right-thing, and that the New Jersey approach when used for software is a better approach than the MIT approach.

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