I'm back from two days of OOPSLA pre-conference workshops. I had a great time and my brain is feeling very overstimulated. :-)
The Lisp50 workshop started with Steele and Garbriel re-enacting their 1993 HOPL talk 'The Evolution of Lisp' word-for-word, very well executed with narration by Pascal Costanza. The talk was set during the AI winter so it ended with a few somber words about Lisp companies dying out. Then it was more olden days history from JonL White.
Surprisingly, this all pissed me off immensely. If the Lisp they're here to celebrate stopped evolving in 1993 then what's that got to do with the Lisp that I know? So I left them to it and browsed other workshops for a while.
I chanced upon the Smalltalk Superpowers room. They had an interesting theme: everybody presenting their favourite dirty tricks ("superpowers" -- stack-walking, hacking objects as arrays, etc) and then voting thumbs-up/thumbs-down on whether they're doing good or evil. David Ungar was there playing along with Self running on his laptop -- that worked very well too. (I'd never seen a running Self before.) I had lunch with those guys and heard about the history of the commercial Smalltalk world and the technical workings of Gemstone. Good people! (What would your Lisp superpowers be?)
The grand finale made everything right! Clojure: a Lisp of the 21st century. I found the talk electrifying -- it was exactly the right thing at the right time. We broke for dinner and drinks in the highest of spirits and had a long jolly evening.
On the flight back I read a couple of chapters of The Elements of Computing Systems and implemented some circuits on paper (not, and, or, xor, mux, dmux, half-adder, full-adder, adder). Fantastic book! I'll try porting these circuits to Clojure and having a crack at the ALU and CPU.
So life is good and I'm fully satisfied with the Lisp50 experience! See you in another 50 years.