Good to have no boss

Guy Steele is interviewing John McCarthy:

Experimentation is good? Do you think there is anything peculiar or special about the design of Lisp that encouraged that experimentation or made it easier?

Sure, there was no boss. I never attempted to be the boss. If we take Fortran or IPL, each of them had a boss - APL had a boss.

Nowadays Python has a boss, Guido van Rossum, and C# has a boss - there is Heilsberg - and James Gosling - he doesn't try to act as a boss to Java anymore but he is still considered a kind of boss.

If Lisp has any boss, it's you! You wrote the reference manual.

I've been trying to disclaim that boss ever since, perhaps instinctively following your example or just because I don't want to be a boss - I'm not sure. It's interesting that during the last 10 -15 years I think there has been a kind of a cult of bosses in programming languages and what you say, that may be a bad idea for the development of the language.


thankfully larry refuses to act like a boss most of the time. even perl itself is humbly in not telling you how to do it.