Tag Archives: books

Objects vs Functions

I learned to ‘programme computers’ long ago, almost before there was no “me” in ‘program’ and certainly before I knew how to ‘team’. I had a very brief and unsuccessful exposure to functional programming in LISP (not Lisp) then stopped. I did other ‘Data Processing’ things.

In recent years I’ve been working as an analyst, alongside people who write code according to the object model. I think I have a feel for objects but never having written code in an object-oriented language, I can’t be sure. I decided to try, in the Python language, then got distracted by the shiny Clojure language which is functional. I feel that right now I’m approximately equally confused by objects and functions, so I thought I’d write this quickly before I know what I’m talking about. I can come back later to laugh at my naivety, along with the rest of you.

Like the person who wrote this https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4246018 ,
I’ve been watching some talks online recently by Rich Hickey of Clojure fame”
The post asks “So if I follow Hickey’s advice, how am I supposed to represent a book? As a vector of vectors of vectors of vectors of strings? If so, then how do I prevent a change in the representation of the Book from breaking client code?”

I found the question very interesting because representing ‘books’ in a functional language is exactly what I want to do. I think differently to the author because  I’m not yet trapped inside the object paradigm. I can see that ‘book’ is a real-world class of objects, a very specific and limited implementation of the representation of a small subset of all the information in the world. That’s what my ‘book’ was going to be about and why I’m now playing with functions instead of writing it.

Objects are good at simulation of real life systems. They encapsulate small sub-systems of a process and it’s local data into an object. What I always struggled to understand was what you did with the data that didn’t want to be enclosed – “information wants to be free”. People seem to cope by inventing objects that don’t really exist: to be data shepherds.

Functions are good at abstraction. A book is a single output format from something much richer. That’s what I want to write. Data and processes are complex. Objects and functions are simplifying models; there may be others.

p.s. (not Lisp) Get it?

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The Economics of Free Culture

I’ve spent the last 18 months in a period of self-development: learning, thinking and writing. There has been a vague idea of something ‘book-like’ at the end of the process that might generate an income but, to date, I have earned nothing. I am a kept man. In Mrs. Woos words recently, “It’s lucky you can occasionally make me laugh or you’d be dead”.

Last night I gave a 10 (11) minute talk in the form of a book review of a series of blog posts. I did all the preparation between 2pm and 5pm, without too many distractions and it was more structured than my normal on-the-fly blog posts. Ignoring the ideas that I slipped in from the previous research, this is the best data I have from which I can measure my writing productivity.

If we assume a rather optimistic income of £50,000 a year for a writer and an optimistic 2 weeks per year holiday (due to the constand flow of work, at steady rate which I can satisfy), we get a nice round target of £1,000 per week to aim for, or £100 per half day. So, to have a comfortable life as a writer, I would need to find someone willing to pay me £100 for a page of writing that I hadn’t even had to research, or at least double that if if they wanted me to go somewhere to present it, plus expenses. So, £250 per 10 minute speaking engagement or they could just read it here for nothing and I could get a bar job like most artists and musicians I know. As everything becomes free, our creative economy is imploding. I need a new commercial model.

Let’s imagine there was a micro-payment system for this blog. How cheap does information have to be, to compete with free, when people are drowning in an information flood? The Free culture of the Information Revolution is doing for new writers what karaoke did for pub singers.

For the first time in my life, I’m asking myself, “What would Simon Cowell do?” and the implications of that are too horrible to contemplate. When my childhood in the Sixties promised a future of 50% leisure time to weave a new kaftan or write poetry, I imagined the wealth and the leisure would be distributed evenly. I should have considered the broken promises of the industrial revolution to save us all from toil.