[Pharo-users] About "it's not pharo but smalltalk"

Sean P. DeNigris sean at clipperadams.com
Thu Feb 6 21:25:13 EST 2020

> pharo is not smalltalk 
> TedVanGaalen wrote
>> Pharo IS Smalltalk, whether you like it or not.

An ancient parable goes...

> A group of blind men heard that a strange animal, called an elephant, had
> been brought to the town, but none of them were aware of its shape and
> form. Out of curiosity, they said: "We must inspect and know it by touch,
> of which we are capable". So, they sought it out, and when they found it
> they groped about it. In the case of the first person, whose hand landed
> on the trunk, said "This being is like a thick snake". For another one
> whose hand reached its ear, it seemed like a kind of fan. As for another
> person, whose hand was upon its leg, said, the elephant is a pillar like a
> tree-trunk. The blind man who placed his hand upon its side said the
> elephant, "is a wall". Another who felt its tail, described it as a rope.
> The last felt its tusk, stating the elephant is that which is hard, smooth
> and like a spear.

And from its Wikipedia article:

> In some versions, they stop talking, start listening and collaborate to
> "see" the full elephant.


Two parts of the same elephant:
1. Pharo is Smalltalk (in the sense that St-72, 76, and 80 are)
2. Pharo is not Smalltalk (in the sense that most non-Smalltalkers think
that "Smalltalk" = St-80, so they would be mislead and unnecessary turned
off by #1)

The *marketing* decision's logic is something like the following: Given that
both of these soundbites are equally (un)true, which one is more likely to
bring people to Pharo?

|--Sound Byte--|--Familiar w ST--|------Unfamiliar------|
|--Pharo = ST---|-----N/A*-------| Ew! Last century!----|
|-Pharo ~= ST--|-----N/A*-------| Hmm, interesting...--|
* Have already made up their mind and will not likely be convinced by a
soundbite anyway

While one can certainly understand disagreeing with the possible
effectiveness of the strategy, these threads usually IMHO have the feel of a
holy war from the camp touching the "Pharo = ST" part of the elephant. 

In the unlikely event that anyone is still reading this, I'll paste my
longer explanation from a similar 2015 thread [1]

Sean P. DeNigris wrote
> The best way to understand the rationale for Pharo's marketing decision is
> to read one of the many long threads about it on the Pharo lists. I doubt
> rehashing it will provide new value.
> The issue boils down to the fact that the term Smalltalk has been
> overloaded. The original meaning was prototype Dynabook software that was
> used to bootstrap its replacement every 4 years. This true definition, by
> design, leaves plenty of room for innovation. Unfortunately, when
> Smalltalk-80 was released to the world, that became what people mean when
> they use the word Smalltalk. Obviously, people already familiar with
> Smalltalk are going to look at Pharo and go, "oh look, it's Smalltalk"*.
> But that is not the target market. The audience for the Smalltalk-inspired
> campaign is the other 99% of programmers who would never get past:
> "Smalltalk = 1980 = dead = not worth checking out".
> Anyway, I'd rather get back to hacking than waste more time in these IMHO
> mostly-pointless debates. In fact, I disagree that unpopularity is a
> problem at all. I would say that our biggest advantage is not being
> popular. I'll take a small community of true-believers over a mob of trend
> followers any day.
> * Although they'd probably base that opinion on the syntax, which is the
> least important part of Smalltalk (the live environment being first, and
> libraries second). In fact, if Ruby had a live, dynamic,
> turtles-all-the-way-down environment, with a Morphic-like uniform, live
> interface, and Smalltalk-like tools, I probably wouldn't have gravitated
> to Smalltalk

1. Why Aren't People Using Smalltalk?

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