Writing "Haskell For Dummies Or At Least For People Who Feel Like Dummies When They See The Word 'Monad'"

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Writing "Haskell For Dummies Or At Least For People Who Feel Like Dummies When They See The Word 'Monad'"

Tim Chevalier
It's not as if this is the first time that this has been suggested,
but some people have suggested that a practical book about Haskell
would be a good idea. I agree. Some people have also suggested that
the right moment for this hasn't arrived yet, and I see that as a
challenge.

I'm willing to take the lead in at least thinking about what such a
book might look like. I'm potentially about to have some free time for
such things, and am still young and foolish enough to think that
writing a book would be a good idea.

Of course, there are many good Haskell books out there already, but
many of them are intended as class textbooks or are aimed at more
theoretical-minded people. There's nothing wrong with that, but I
think that it would be nice if a friendly, conversational, informal
book about Haskell existed, since after all this is such a friendly
and informal community. (If there already is a book like this, point
it out, but I get the impression there's not.)

There's also excellent Haskell documentation available on the web
already, but people like to buy books and they like to have an
artifact that they can hold in their hands without getting laser
printer toner all over themselves.

But if I were going to do this, I'd need all the help I could get, so
if you're interested in working with me on this, email me off-list and
we'll talk. Don't feel like you need to be named "Simon" for this; I
don't think you need to be a Haskell guru to contribute to a book like
this (I know I'm not one), though it wouldn't hurt. Being interested
in good writing and explaining things to a wider audience is more
important. And, the more people who are interested in working on this,
the more we can all pool our various talents to create something
awesome.

Cheers,
Kirsten

--
Kirsten Chevalier* [hidden email] *Often in error, never in doubt
"Everyone's too stupid." -- _Ghost World_
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RE: Writing "Haskell For Dummies Or At Least For People Who Feel Like Dummies When They See The Word 'Monad'"

Patrick Mulder
In my opinion it would be important to increase the
understanding about "semantics" and "processes". And
it would be good to introduce the concepts in a
similar way as Profokiev introduces the sound of
classical music in "Peter and the Wolf". If my
suspicion is correct, functional programming would be
very close to composing classical music (or concurrent
algorithms and processes). Has anyone of you similar
thoughts on music and programming ?  What are the
basic ingredients for making abstractions (like in
music rythm, keys, tempo, ...) ? It would be useful to
express different ways of expression by explaining
first "semantics" of processes and abstractions.

--- Kirsten Chevalier <[hidden email]>
schrieb:

> It's not as if this is the first time that this has
> been suggested,
> but some people have suggested that a practical book
> about Haskell
> would be a good idea. I agree. Some people have also
> suggested that
> the right moment for this hasn't arrived yet, and I
> see that as a
> challenge.
>
> I'm willing to take the lead in at least thinking
> about what such a
> book might look like. I'm potentially about to have
> some free time for
> such things, and am still young and foolish enough
> to think that
> writing a book would be a good idea.
>
> Of course, there are many good Haskell books out
> there already, but
> many of them are intended as class textbooks or are
> aimed at more
> theoretical-minded people. There's nothing wrong
> with that, but I
> think that it would be nice if a friendly,
> conversational, informal
> book about Haskell existed, since after all this is
> such a friendly
> and informal community. (If there already is a book
> like this, point
> it out, but I get the impression there's not.)
>
> There's also excellent Haskell documentation
> available on the web
> already, but people like to buy books and they like
> to have an
> artifact that they can hold in their hands without
> getting laser
> printer toner all over themselves.
>
> But if I were going to do this, I'd need all the
> help I could get, so
> if you're interested in working with me on this,
> email me off-list and
> we'll talk. Don't feel like you need to be named
> "Simon" for this; I
> don't think you need to be a Haskell guru to
> contribute to a book like
> this (I know I'm not one), though it wouldn't hurt.
> Being interested
> in good writing and explaining things to a wider
> audience is more
> important. And, the more people who are interested
> in working on this,
> the more we can all pool our various talents to
> create something
> awesome.
>
> Cheers,
> Kirsten
>
> --
> Kirsten Chevalier* [hidden email]
> *Often in error, never in doubt
> "Everyone's too stupid." -- _Ghost World_
> _______________________________________________
> Haskell-Cafe mailing list
> [hidden email]
> http://www.haskell.org/mailman/listinfo/haskell-cafe
>





       
               
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Re: Writing "Haskell For Dummies Or At Least For People Who Feel Like Dummies When They See The Word 'Monad'"

Tim Chevalier
On 12/11/06, Patrick Mulder <[hidden email]> wrote:

> In my opinion it would be important to increase the
> understanding about "semantics" and "processes". And
> it would be good to introduce the concepts in a
> similar way as Profokiev introduces the sound of
> classical music in "Peter and the Wolf". If my
> suspicion is correct, functional programming would be
> very close to composing classical music (or concurrent
> algorithms and processes). Has anyone of you similar
> thoughts on music and programming ?  What are the
> basic ingredients for making abstractions (like in
> music rythm, keys, tempo, ...) ? It would be useful to
> express different ways of expression by explaining
> first "semantics" of processes and abstractions.
>

I love the analogy, though it's been at least eleven years since I
tried to compose any music. (Coincidentally, eleven years ago was when
I learned to program...)

I've often thought that reading code (if it's well-written code) is a
little like reading a poem, which of course is also a little like
listening to classical music. There's certainly a sense of rhythm
involved in how you choose variable names: that's why nobody likes
variable names like
theHashTableThatStoresMappingsBetweenNamesAndEmails.

I'm not sure what the analogy with keys would be. Maybe writing in a
point-free versus a pointed style is sort of like transposing a melody
into another key.

For the potential book, I definitely think a Peter-and-the-Wolf-like
idea is good. (The wolf would be unsafePerformIO, obviously.) Probably
any metaphors that assume any knowledge of music should be left for a
different piece of writing that assumes a different audience, but
pursuing it would be fun. I've been thinking a lot lately about how to
present computer science (and programming languages) to a popular
audience, too. I don't remember who originally posed the question of
"who's going to be the Carl Sagan of computer science?", but it's a
question somebody should try to answer. (The answer isn't "Douglas
Hofstadter", because obviously somebody needs to be out there
explaining why languages with static type systems are cool, too.)

Cheers,
Kirsten

--
Kirsten Chevalier* [hidden email] *Often in error, never in doubt
"Are you aware that rushing toward a goal is a sublimated death wish? It's no
coincidence we call them 'deadlines'." -- Tom Robbins
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Re: Writing "Haskell For Dummies Or At Least For People Who Feel Like Dummies When They See The Word 'Monad'"

Vyacheslav Akhmechet
The way to write the book, I think, would be to take something
referred to as "real world problems" - problems a large proportion of
programmers deals with and gets paid for, and then show how to solve
these problems in Haskell (preferrably quicker and easier than with
"conventional" solutions).

I would divide the book into two parts. The first part would introduce
Haskell via traditional small examples. Quick sort, towers of Hanoi,
etc. The second part would have two or three large examples -
something that people would relate to. I'd take a web application,
tetris, and perhaps a chat server.

Thanks,
 - Slava.

On 12/11/06, Kirsten Chevalier <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On 12/11/06, Patrick Mulder <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > In my opinion it would be important to increase the
> > understanding about "semantics" and "processes". And
> > it would be good to introduce the concepts in a
> > similar way as Profokiev introduces the sound of
> > classical music in "Peter and the Wolf". If my
> > suspicion is correct, functional programming would be
> > very close to composing classical music (or concurrent
> > algorithms and processes). Has anyone of you similar
> > thoughts on music and programming ?  What are the
> > basic ingredients for making abstractions (like in
> > music rythm, keys, tempo, ...) ? It would be useful to
> > express different ways of expression by explaining
> > first "semantics" of processes and abstractions.
> >
>
> I love the analogy, though it's been at least eleven years since I
> tried to compose any music. (Coincidentally, eleven years ago was when
> I learned to program...)
>
> I've often thought that reading code (if it's well-written code) is a
> little like reading a poem, which of course is also a little like
> listening to classical music. There's certainly a sense of rhythm
> involved in how you choose variable names: that's why nobody likes
> variable names like
> theHashTableThatStoresMappingsBetweenNamesAndEmails.
>
> I'm not sure what the analogy with keys would be. Maybe writing in a
> point-free versus a pointed style is sort of like transposing a melody
> into another key.
>
> For the potential book, I definitely think a Peter-and-the-Wolf-like
> idea is good. (The wolf would be unsafePerformIO, obviously.) Probably
> any metaphors that assume any knowledge of music should be left for a
> different piece of writing that assumes a different audience, but
> pursuing it would be fun. I've been thinking a lot lately about how to
> present computer science (and programming languages) to a popular
> audience, too. I don't remember who originally posed the question of
> "who's going to be the Carl Sagan of computer science?", but it's a
> question somebody should try to answer. (The answer isn't "Douglas
> Hofstadter", because obviously somebody needs to be out there
> explaining why languages with static type systems are cool, too.)
>
> Cheers,
> Kirsten
>
> --
> Kirsten Chevalier* [hidden email] *Often in error, never in doubt
> "Are you aware that rushing toward a goal is a sublimated death wish? It's no
> coincidence we call them 'deadlines'." -- Tom Robbins
> _______________________________________________
> Haskell-Cafe mailing list
> [hidden email]
> http://www.haskell.org/mailman/listinfo/haskell-cafe
>
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Re: Writing "Haskell For Dummies Or At Least For People Who Feel Like Dummies When They See The Word 'Monad'"

Patrick Mulder
(to Kirsten, Akhmechet, cc: Haskell-Cafe)
> I would divide the book into two parts. The first
> part would introduce
> Haskell via traditional small examples. Quick sort,
> towers of Hanoi,
> etc. The second part would have two or three large
> examples -
> something that people would relate to. I'd take a
> web application,
> tetris, and perhaps a chat server.

Tetris could be fun, because it would allow to present
your software/learning curve to people without
technology background, and maybe they would look into
programming then as well.

Your setup also reminds me on the book by Peter Seibel
on learning Lisp. He shows how to program a small
database to organise your CD collection (by writing a
sort of SQL replacement.)

> > I've often thought that reading code (if it's
> well-written code) is a
> > little like reading a poem, which of course is
> also a little like
> > listening to classical music.

Indeed, poems are another form of abstract expression,
and certainly it would be interesting to think about
similarities with programming. Poems can be
interesting because of multiple associations in words,
e.g. an obvious meaning and hidden meaning. And this
involves some parallel processes. But to me, the idea
of parallel processes is more clearly to see in music.
Processes are rendered in the voices of instruments,
and every voice transmits or contributes to a certain
message. In a way, the voices of an orchestra can be
seen to describe a process (experience) or function.
Another idea that comes to my mind is attributing
processes to protagonists in a drama.  (Another quote
how programming shares aspects of making music. From
the preface of Structure and Interpretation of
Computer Programs:  "A computer is like a violin. You
can imagine a novice trying first a phonograph and
then a violin. The latter, he says, sounds terrible.
That is the argument we have heard from our humanists
and most of our computer scientists. Computer programs
are good, they say, for particular purposes, but they
aren't flexible. Neither is a violin, or a typewriter,
until you learn how to use it." Marvin Minsky, ``Why
Programming Is a Good
Medium for Expressing Poorly-Understood and
Sloppily-Formulated Ideas'')


> I've been thinking a lot
> lately about how to
> > present computer science (and programming
> languages) to a popular
> > audience, too.

Yes, this is an important topic. But there is also the
common misunderstanding that computers = Von Neumann
machines. I think the concept of computer is better to
see as sort of telescope or translator. Computers
allow to look at processes (and complexity) which
would otherwise not conceivable to our limited minds.
The idea of computers as telescopes is from Daniel
Dennett though.

I will think about these ideas, and let you know my
progress.

Patrick




       
               
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Re: Writing "Haskell For Dummies Or At Least For People Who Feel Like Dummies When They See The Word 'Monad'"

Clifford Beshers
In reply to this post by Tim Chevalier

Kirsten Chevalier wrote:

There's also excellent Haskell documentation available on the web
already, but people like to buy books and they like to have an
artifact that they can hold in their hands without getting laser
printer toner all over themselves.

It also helps to collect and edit.  Wiki's collect a lot of info, but they are often poorly organized and hard to search.

I've always thought this book should be called ``Haskell for Hackers''.  I've been collecting guidelines for some time.  Here are a few:

  • The introduction should have some compelling arguments and examples about why someone should bet their business on functional programming.  An important focus should be the rise of dual- and quad-core processors, emphasizing the potential for good libraries and compilers to leverage these effectively.
  • Each and every bit of syntax should be explained in plain language and these explanations should be typeset like theorems, numbered and offset from the rest of the text.  The explanations should only use words and concepts that are known to all imperative programmers, or terms that have already been carefully introduced and defined.
  • Each code fragment should be explained in plain language.  Quite often Haskell literature explains something in terms of Haskell, which is fine if you already know Haskell, but maddening if you don't.
  • IO must be introduced and used in the first chapter.  Experienced programmers are not willing to wait until page 327 for some hint about how to replace printf.  That doesn't mean that the first chapter will be all about monads, either,  just some basics of how to perform IO along with some examples.
  • Examples should generally be pulled from the imperative literature, not the functional.  http://haskell.org/haskellwiki/Simple_unix_tools is a good example.
  • Alternatives to lex/yacc, shell programming, perl regular expressions and awk/perl style text processing must be covered.

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Re: Writing "Haskell For Dummies Or At Least For People Who Feel Like Dummies When They See The Word 'Monad'"

Arie Peterson
In reply to this post by Patrick Mulder
> [...] I think the concept of computer is better to
> see as sort of telescope or translator. Computers
> allow to look at processes (and complexity) which
> would otherwise not conceivable to our limited minds.
> The idea of computers as telescopes is from Daniel
> Dennett though.

"Computer Science is no more about computers than astronomy is about
telescopes." :p

More relevantly: again Dijkstra, but now on (programming as) composing music:

"There are many different styles of composition. I characterize them
always as Mozart versus Beethoven. When Mozart began to write at that time
he had the composition ready in his mind. He wrote the manuscript and it
was 'aus einem Guss' (casted as one). And it was also written very
beautiful. Beethoven was an indecisive and a tinkerer and wrote down
before he had the composition ready and plastered parts over to change
them. There was a certain place where he plastered over nine times and one
did remove that carefully to see what happened and it turned out the last
version was the same as the first one."

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Re: Writing "Haskell For Dummies Or At Least For People Who Feel Like Dummies When They See The Word 'Monad'"

Andrew Wagner
In reply to this post by Tim Chevalier
I think there are some great ideas here, and it would be a fantastic
project to do as a community, via a wikibook. I, for one, have been
studying haskell for several months, and am just starting to see a
little bit of light when it comes to monads. I think it would be
beneficial to work through a non-trivial construction of a new monad,
and the larger examples given would be good opportunities to do that.

Andrew
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Re: Writing "Haskell For Dummies Or At Least For People Who Feel Like Dummies When They See The Word 'Monad'"

Philippa Cowderoy
On Mon, 11 Dec 2006, Andrew Wagner wrote:

> I think there are some great ideas here, and it would be a fantastic
> project to do as a community, via a wikibook. I, for one, have been
> studying haskell for several months, and am just starting to see a
> little bit of light when it comes to monads. I think it would be
> beneficial to work through a non-trivial construction of a new monad,
> and the larger examples given would be good opportunities to do that.
>

FWIW, if the book's going to use GADTs then they make building monads
without the use of monad transformers much easier - much like constructing
a simple virtual machine or interpreter. Which IMO reinforces an important
intuition about just what we use monads for.

--
[hidden email]

There is no magic bullet. There are, however, plenty of bullets that
magically home in on feet when not used in exactly the right circumstances.
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Re: Writing "Haskell For Dummies Or At Least For People Who Feel Like Dummies When They See The Word 'Monad'"

Tim Chevalier
In reply to this post by Andrew Wagner
On 12/11/06, Andrew Wagner <[hidden email]> wrote:
> I think there are some great ideas here, and it would be a fantastic
> project to do as a community, via a wikibook. I, for one, have been
> studying haskell for several months, and am just starting to see a
> little bit of light when it comes to monads. I think it would be
> beneficial to work through a non-trivial construction of a new monad,
> and the larger examples given would be good opportunities to do that.
>

If you (or anyone else who's been participating in the discussion, or
anyone else) would like to do a wikibook, that would be great.
Personally, I'd like to write / be involved in organizing the writing
of a dead-trees book. (In theory, it could be both, but it seems to me
like short of being Larry Lessig, there's not really a way to get a
publisher to publish something that's already released under a free
documentation license -- but correct me if I'm wrong.)

Cheers,
Kirsten

--
Kirsten Chevalier* [hidden email] *Often in error, never in doubt
"There's no money in poetry, but there's no poetry in money, either."
--Robert Graves
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Re: Re: Writing "Haskell For Dummies Or At Least For People Who Feel Like Dummies When They See The Word 'Monad'"

Matt Revelle-2
A quick search turned up Lulu (http://www.lulu.com/).

>From the Lulu site:
"Publish and sell easily within minutes.
No set-up fees. No minimum order.
Keep control of the rights.
Set your own price.
Each product is printed as it is ordered.
No excess inventory."

Looks like they offer hardcover and paperback and are fine with
"open-source" books.

More info at Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lulu.com


On 12/11/06, Kirsten Chevalier <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On 12/11/06, Andrew Wagner <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > I think there are some great ideas here, and it would be a fantastic
> > project to do as a community, via a wikibook. I, for one, have been
> > studying haskell for several months, and am just starting to see a
> > little bit of light when it comes to monads. I think it would be
> > beneficial to work through a non-trivial construction of a new monad,
> > and the larger examples given would be good opportunities to do that.
> >
>
> If you (or anyone else who's been participating in the discussion, or
> anyone else) would like to do a wikibook, that would be great.
> Personally, I'd like to write / be involved in organizing the writing
> of a dead-trees book. (In theory, it could be both, but it seems to me
> like short of being Larry Lessig, there's not really a way to get a
> publisher to publish something that's already released under a free
> documentation license -- but correct me if I'm wrong.)
>
> Cheers,
> Kirsten
>
> --
> Kirsten Chevalier* [hidden email] *Often in error, never in doubt
> "There's no money in poetry, but there's no poetry in money, either."
> --Robert Graves
> _______________________________________________
> Haskell-Cafe mailing list
> [hidden email]
> http://www.haskell.org/mailman/listinfo/haskell-cafe
>
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Re: Re: Writing "Haskell For Dummies Or At Least For People Who Feel Like Dummies When They See The Word 'Monad'"

Tim Chevalier
On 12/11/06, Matt Revelle <[hidden email]> wrote:

> A quick search turned up Lulu (http://www.lulu.com/).
>
> >From the Lulu site:
> "Publish and sell easily within minutes.
> No set-up fees. No minimum order.
> Keep control of the rights.
> Set your own price.
> Each product is printed as it is ordered.
> No excess inventory."
>
> Looks like they offer hardcover and paperback and are fine with
> "open-source" books.
>

I suppose I should have clarified that I meant a dead-trees book with
a real publisher, but again, if other people want to organize
something different based on this thread, they should go ahead! I can
only do so much :-)

Cheers,
Kirsten

--
Kirsten Chevalier* [hidden email] *Often in error, never in doubt
"...There is no mystery; there is only paradox, the incontrovertible union of
contradictory truths." -- Edward Abbey
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Re: Re: Writing "Haskell For Dummies Or At Least For People Who Feel Like Dummies When They See The Word 'Monad'"

Andrew Wagner
In reply to this post by Tim Chevalier
Well, perhaps if nothing else, we could use a wikibook to
collaboratively work on the structure of such a book, and then from
that you could publish a "real" book. I don't really know the legal
issues, though. I am thinking of several books though which have been
written and released both as full paper books, and as free digital
books. Could we do something similar?
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Re: Re: Writing "Haskell For Dummies Or At Least For People Who Feel Like Dummies When They See The Word 'Monad'"

Tim Chevalier
On 12/11/06, Andrew Wagner <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Well, perhaps if nothing else, we could use a wikibook to
> collaboratively work on the structure of such a book, and then from
> that you could publish a "real" book. I don't really know the legal
> issues, though. I am thinking of several books though which have been
> written and released both as full paper books, and as free digital
> books. Could we do something similar?

I definitely think using a wiki to work on the book would be a good
idea. I just wouldn't want to imply that that meant it would
necessarily be a public wiki or that it would be around forever. The
legal issues are basically that publishers don't want to publish books
that people can get for free off the web (whether or not you agree
with this logic). There are exceptions to this, like Lessig's _Free
Culture_, but it's my impression that they usually involve authors who
have enough sway that publishers will let them get away with whatever
they want.

Cheers,
Kirsten

--
Kirsten Chevalier* [hidden email] *Often in error, never in doubt
"Who needs reasons when you've got the root password?"--[hidden email]
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Re: Re: Writing "Haskell For Dummies Or At Least For People Who Feel Like Dummies When They See The Word 'Monad'"

Matt Revelle-2
In reply to this post by Tim Chevalier
What do you mean by "real publisher"?  As long as the quality of the
final product is good, does it really matter what publishing company
has their name stamped on it?

I'm not sure about Lulu and distribution, but there's also BookSurge
(http://www.booksurge.com) which is owned by Amazon.  From their
"distribution" page:

"Through BookSurge, your book is given a unique ISBN (a sales
distribution number) and is made available for sale through the
world's largest distribution channels. Our authors receive the highest
royalty rates in the industry, without smoke and mirror accounting -
you receive royalties as a direct percentage of your book's list price
on all retail and wholesale channels."

There are plenty of details to figure out, but I wouldn't dimiss the
"open, electronic book" -> "dead-tree book" idea just yet.


On 12/11/06, Kirsten Chevalier <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On 12/11/06, Matt Revelle <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > A quick search turned up Lulu (http://www.lulu.com/).
> >
> > >From the Lulu site:
> > "Publish and sell easily within minutes.
> > No set-up fees. No minimum order.
> > Keep control of the rights.
> > Set your own price.
> > Each product is printed as it is ordered.
> > No excess inventory."
> >
> > Looks like they offer hardcover and paperback and are fine with
> > "open-source" books.
> >
>
> I suppose I should have clarified that I meant a dead-trees book with
> a real publisher, but again, if other people want to organize
> something different based on this thread, they should go ahead! I can
> only do so much :-)
>
> Cheers,
> Kirsten
>
> --
> Kirsten Chevalier* [hidden email] *Often in error, never in doubt
> "...There is no mystery; there is only paradox, the incontrovertible union of
> contradictory truths." -- Edward Abbey
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Re: Re: Writing "Haskell For Dummies Or At Least For People Who Feel Like Dummies When They See The Word 'Monad'"

Tim Chevalier
On 12/11/06, Matt Revelle <[hidden email]> wrote:
> What do you mean by "real publisher"?  As long as the quality of the
> final product is good, does it really matter what publishing company
> has their name stamped on it?
>

It matters to me; if I'm going to put work into this, then that's what
I want the result to be. I'm happy, of course, for projects that I am
not involved in to use whatever publishing mechanisms that the people
involved in those projects prefer.

If you want to help with the writing project that I have in mind, then
discuss that on the list. If you want to start another writing project
whose primary goal is to produce an open-content, electronic book,
then announce that on the list too. If you want to debate the merits
of open-content versus traditional publishing, well, I'd love to have
that debate too, but this list probably isn't the right forum for
that.

Cheers,
Kirsten

--
Kirsten Chevalier* [hidden email] *Often in error, never in doubt
"There are many places in computer science where it's actually helpful to
procrastinate." -- Eric Brewer
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Re: Re: Writing "Haskell For Dummies Or At Least For People Who Feel Like Dummies When They See The Word 'Monad'"

Andrew Wagner
In reply to this post by Tim Chevalier
Well, I'm not opposed at all to a written final form. I guess I just
don't see that and using a wikibook to assist in our collaboration as
mutually exclusive. Anyway, I'd love to help in any such project. By
the way, I seem to be messing up the threads. What is considered the
"correct" way to reply to a particular thread? I've been copying and
pasting the subject line and writing to [hidden email].
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Re: Re: Writing "Haskell For Dummies Or At Least For People Who Feel Like Dummies When They See The Word 'Monad'"

Tim Chevalier
On 12/11/06, Andrew Wagner <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Well, I'm not opposed at all to a written final form. I guess I just
> don't see that and using a wikibook to assist in our collaboration as
> mutually exclusive.

I think the confusion is my fault. I assumed that you (if it was you
who originally used the word "wikibook"... it's been a long day) meant
wikibook as in the Wikimedia Foundation Wikibooks site, but it seems
you meant it as a generic term instead. Sorry.

> Anyway, I'd love to help in any such project. By
> the way, I seem to be messing up the threads. What is considered the
> "correct" way to reply to a particular thread? I've been copying and
> pasting the subject line and writing to [hidden email].

I think if you're going to do that, you also need to copy the
cross-reference headers, and I don't know if Gmail lets you do that.
(I gave up on trying to make that work, and got out of digest mode :-)

Cheers,
Kirsten

--
Kirsten Chevalier* [hidden email] *Often in error, never in doubt
"If you try to solve a hard problem, the question is not whether you will use a
powerful enough language, but whether you will (a) use a powerful language, (b)
write a de facto interpreter for one, or (c) yourself become a human compiler
for one." -- Paul Graham
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Re: Re: Re: Writing "Haskell For Dummies Or At Least For People Who Feel Like Dummies When They See The Word 'Monad'"

Nicolas Frisby
In reply to this post by Tim Chevalier
I have taken the liberty to read into the definition of "practical
Haskell;" if I'm off target let me know so I can tweak my claims to
fit whatever it is I thought I was discussing ;).

Two cents:

1) This wouldn't be the first book introducing functional programming
to imperative programmers. It would seem wise to investigate existing
literature and see how the "good ones" handled that: which examples,
when to introduce what, etc. The purity issue probably will be a
novelty to a Haskell book though.

2) This wouldn't be the first book introducing Haskell to functional
programmers. It would seem wise to investigate existing literature...

I've read (and heard) a lot of claims that the existing "learn
Haskell" books don't teach you "real Haskell." I believe it's because
the existing books tackle both 1 and 2 above, leaving no room for

3) This would be the first book introducing the nuances of large
systems development in Haskell to Haskell programmers. Explaining well
various monads (e.g. how to use mtl), or other things necessary for
"practical Haskell" (e.g. ByteString, database interface, web app,
parsing, and many other systems libraries), requires of the audience a
rather thorough understanding of Haskell's type system (MPTC and other
extensions for mirth).

In summary:

If this is to be a reasonably sized book, then I think it must assume
some working knowledge of Haskell. There are a number of good books to
learn the basics, but there doesn't seem to be a standard "read this
book for Haskell systems development". Eschew the basics to make room
for the good stuff.

If this is not to be a reasonably sized book (i.e. it will go from
knowing Haskell 0% all the way to writing "real world programs"), then
I think the good existing literature should be the inspiration for the
"learn Haskell" section. I love the analogies as much as the next
programming languages researcher, but I think introducing Haskell in
text has been done and done well--it doesn't need a new approach. So
don't reinvent the "learn Haskell" text; that way you can spend time
on the good stuff.

Nick

ps - I'd be happy to participate in varying degrees with any
collaborative effort.

On 12/11/06, Kirsten Chevalier <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On 12/11/06, Matt Revelle <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > What do you mean by "real publisher"?  As long as the quality of the
> > final product is good, does it really matter what publishing company
> > has their name stamped on it?
> >
>
> It matters to me; if I'm going to put work into this, then that's what
> I want the result to be. I'm happy, of course, for projects that I am
> not involved in to use whatever publishing mechanisms that the people
> involved in those projects prefer.
>
> If you want to help with the writing project that I have in mind, then
> discuss that on the list. If you want to start another writing project
> whose primary goal is to produce an open-content, electronic book,
> then announce that on the list too. If you want to debate the merits
> of open-content versus traditional publishing, well, I'd love to have
> that debate too, but this list probably isn't the right forum for
> that.
>
> Cheers,
> Kirsten
>
> --
> Kirsten Chevalier* [hidden email] *Often in error, never in doubt
> "There are many places in computer science where it's actually helpful to
> procrastinate." -- Eric Brewer
> _______________________________________________
> Haskell-Cafe mailing list
> [hidden email]
> http://www.haskell.org/mailman/listinfo/haskell-cafe
>
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Re: Writing "Haskell For Dummies Or At Least For People Who Feel Like Dummies When They See The Word 'Monad'"

Andy Georges
In reply to this post by Tim Chevalier

On 11 Dec 2006, at 19:35, Kirsten Chevalier wrote:

> On 12/11/06, Andrew Wagner <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> Well, perhaps if nothing else, we could use a wikibook to
>> collaboratively work on the structure of such a book, and then from
>> that you could publish a "real" book. I don't really know the legal
>> issues, though. I am thinking of several books though which have been
>> written and released both as full paper books, and as free digital
>> books. Could we do something similar?
>
> I definitely think using a wiki to work on the book would be a good
> idea. I just wouldn't want to imply that that meant it would
> necessarily be a public wiki or that it would be around forever. The
> legal issues are basically that publishers don't want to publish books
> that people can get for free off the web (whether or not you agree
> with this logic). There are exceptions to this, like Lessig's _Free
> Culture_, but it's my impression that they usually involve authors who
> have enough sway that publishers will let them get away with whatever
> they want.

Well, I know that e.g., Cory Doctorrow puts his books online for  
free, and he seems to have no trouble also getting printed versions  
sold (see for example http://craphound.com/someone/). So I guess it  
should be possible to do. Especially because the demand will be quite  
large, IMO. A collection of real-world examples a la dive into python  
would certainly be on the top of my to buy list.

-- Andy
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