APL in the New Millenium

It is a condition of wisdom in the archer to be patient because when the arrow leaves the bow, it returns no more.

– Sa’di

My friend, Scott Hall, will notice that I borrowed the Sadiq quote above from his Facebook post this morning.  It resonates with me on many levels today.  On the personal side, I’ve already had to apologise twice today for speaking too quickly, too soon & without the requisite precision. Ouch. TWICE.

In the mean time, I’m thinking about how serious and personal this project has become.   This feels a little like scope creep, which started innocently enough with who’s here and who’s willing to let me shove a camera in their face.    The answer of course, is me and my dad.

In any case, what jumped out at me when I wrote the application I mentioned last week for the film is a shift of voice that has occurred in the last year.  In other words, I’m using my own voice because, guess what folks, the story is getting more personal.  But don’t be scared.

I’m also relying on serendipity to pull me through the tidal waves of material which are coming my way.  I am emboldened by Denis Shasha’s essay on Michael  O. Rabin The Possibility of Chance, although I know full well, this is not the interpretation he had in mind.

But this does lead me to my next point which is that of the small treasures my father put into my box, APL Quote Quad Volume 29, Number 4 from June 1999, attracted my attention.  This issue attracted my attention because APL Berlin 2000: The Array Processing Language Conference for the Year 2000 is on the cover.  This year’s APL conference in September is also in BerlinAnd I really want to go!

It’s probably an appropriate moment to think about how much the world has changed in the last decade. Communication technology has been revolutionized, which is great for me, but how will this effect our coming together in person?  What will draw us together to face the rath of Eyjafjallajökull? Why can I just throw in a word like Eyjafjallajökull, and be confident that if you don’t know it, you’ll find it?

Now my trump card. The reason my father put this particular issue of  APL Quote Quad into my box is not because of Berlin.  It is not in my possession to make me think about the future, or what I’m doing or how I’m doing it.  This issue simply holds the obituary of  John C. McPherson and my father wants me to know about this man, a visionary really,  who championed APL at IBM in the very early days.

And that’s what I mean by serendipitous and personal.

And if you are part of the array language community, and you’re up on your obits, you’ll recognize the title of this blog post.  It is the title of perhaps Ken Iverson’s last article, I’m guessing here but Chris or Roger will know for sure, if it really was his last.

My hope is to encourage the relatively small APL family to mute their differences, and present a more united face to the programming world.

So, I’m here doing my part, knowing full well, this is not the interpretation he had in mind.


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