What is this - is anyone making money?

Peter M. Brigham pmbrig at gmail.com
Sun Aug 23 15:58:56 CEST 2015

On Aug 22, 2015, at 9:32 PM, Kay C Lan wrote:

> Richard wrote:
>> To be good at anything is a function of time spent practicing.  Malcolm
>> Gladwell estimates that the time needed to truly master just about anything
>> is roughly 10,000 hours.  So at 5,000 hours one can expect to at least be
>> very good, and at 1,000 hours far better off than not having spent the time
>> studying the task at all.
> Todd wrote:
>> The real critical problem is many expect LC to be a genie in a bottle and
>> grant you three profitable apps.
>> Mostly, it is lack of experience that has created this illusion.
>> Many do indeed purchase LiveCode like they do language software and thing
>> the will learn to speak French simply by osmosis.
> So therein lies the real question. Basically everyone here, and certainly
> Apple/MetaCard/RunRev and now LC all claim that xTalk and their IDE of the
> day helped to make you productive faster. So does Gladwell's estimate of
> 10000hrs apply or is there something magic within LC that gets you to your
> goal faster? Personally I think there is a bit of magic.
> Firstly, let's take the 10000hrs. If that is correct it suggests that
> whether I choose Java or LC it's going to take the same time for me to
> master either. I don't buy that. If it were true, then it doesn't bode well
> for LC, because what it's saying is, pick your language wisely because
> either way it's going to take the same effort to master so it will be other
> factors, like how many open source projects are out there that use the
> language, what is the size of the community that use it, how many major
> companies already use software written in the language, how well respected
> is the language in the community at large, etc, etc which should determine
> you choice of language.
> IMO, some people can learn French through osmosis, but I'm certainly not
> one of them. On the other side of the coin, for myself and I know for
> others, there is something about the xtalk language that just clicked with
> me. I've tried C, C++, Objective C, Java, Javascript, Applescript some
> Basic and probably one or two others that failed to take hold. To be
> brutally honest, the language I'd like to learn the most is Java, there are
> a bunch of OSS projects out there that are written in Java that I would
> just love to participate in, but the language doesn't work for me like LC
> does. Is it because I've been spoilt with HC/LC, it's so easy to create a
> quick and dirty app yet in other languages you just seem to get dirty and
> stay that way for ages. Are we back at Gladwell's 10000 hrs? Is there a
> difference at 100 hrs and 1000 hrs with Java/C/Pick a language vs LC that
> gives you a false impression but at the end of the day you still need 10000
> hrs. Again, I don't think so.
> The way I see it Gladwell shouldn't have used hours, it should have been a
> unit applicable to the profession, and the thought that 10000 applies to
> everyone is just ridiculous - there has to be a bit of magic, a gift, an
> inherent talent as well. You can't turn a 300lb professional footballer
> into a ballet dancer and you can't turn someone with spacial awareness
> problems into a trapeze artist.
> Give a builder an electric hammer, and electric saw and an electric screw
> driver will he become a master builder faster than the guy with the manual
> tools. Yes, because it isn't 10000 hrs it's 10000 nails, or it's 10 houses.
> Becoming a master builder isn't about how well you draw a saw blade across
> a piece of lumber, it's is the cut perpendicular; it isn't about how well
> you swing a hammer, it's is the nail driven straight; it isn't about how
> well you twist a screw driver, it's is the screw driven home with the right
> amount of torque. If modern tools give you a perpendicular cut, nails
> driven straight, and screws torqued to perfection then why waste time?
> For programming, if the syntax for C or Pascal or Assembly language is much
> or a muchness to you, then you are gifted, maybe LC doesn't offer you much
> at all; but if LC clicked with your brain then a genie has just handed you
> an electric hammer, an electric saw and an electric screw driver. Next,
> it's 10000 lines of productive code, not hours that will make the
> difference. And I think everyone here knows that overall LC gets things
> done in less lines of code than other languages. Also, for good or bad, we
> tend to spend less time writing lines and lines of comments as the code in
> many instances is self explanatory.
> So the crux comes down to this. IMO your ability to make money with LC has
> nothing to do with the language and everything to do with your business
> acumen, which Richard and Todd have already pointed out will take a lot of
> skill, effort and time. In this regard Gladwell is probably correct, it
> wont matter what business it is, or what tools you are using, it's going to
> take YOU the same 10000 whatevers to master the business.
> Once you've mastered those business skills, then LC will let you take
> advantage of them faster.

I'll put on my neuropsychology hat for a moment [OT]….

The 10000 hour rule is a heuristic shortcut that Gladwell arrived at by empirical observation. We now know enough about the way the brain works to begin to guess some of the underlying mechanisms. We used to think that the brain had 110 billion neurons at age 21 and the only question was how slowly could you lose them. We now know that the brain is making new neurons all the time, albeit at a slow rate. In addition, the brain is constantly changing itself in response to how it's being used: it strengthens the myelinization of tracts that are used constantly (which speeds up neuronal transmission along those tracts), and areas of gray matter that are used regularly expand and take over a bit of neighboring areas that are used less. The frontal motor area governing voluntary movement of the hands and arms of a concert pianist is up to twice as large as that of other people. So the brain is a hugely active, plastic organ, perhaps the most dynamic organ in the body, even when it comes to structural changes.

It looks as if the timeline for fundamental re-tooling of the brain is something like Gladwell's 10000 hours (which comes out to 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, for 5 years). However. this is for a full structural adaptation to completely new skills. The advantage of LC over other languages is that this amount of retooling is not necessary, since LC builds on skills the brain has already adapted to. It's English-like in vocabulary and syntax, most of the basic objects are familiar to anyone who has used a computer (buttons, fields, etc.), and the basic idea of messages and the message path taps into concepts that are familiar too, once you wrap your head around them. So the learning curve for LC is not nearly as steep, since the amount of brain restructuring is not nearly as much as with those languages that require "a whole new way of thinking." A similar phenomenon happens with learning languages (in the non-computer sense) -- if you're an English speaker, it's easier to learn a romance language in which many of the word roots are shared and the syntax taps into familiar patterns, compared to, say, Thai, where you have to learn a new alphabet, a new syntax, some new phonemes, the whole notion of pitch and tone as modifying meaning rather than emotional expression, never mind new cultural contexts that change how you say things.

So I think you're both right. The reason someone can begin to master LC in a reasonably short time is that the brain is already halfway there.

-- Peter

Peter M. Brigham
pmbrig at gmail.com

More information about the use-livecode mailing list