McCarthy on the W3C

I happened to listen to John McCarthy’s keynote at OOPSLA 2007.  There are some real gems in there for those interested in the history of Lisp, though I admit that I mostly blanked out through the exposition of his Elephant programming language — probably not something amenable to a purely audio delivery, at least for me.

Anyway, he delivers a great zinger at the end, a tangential response to a question about the aims of Semantic Web technologies as they relate to his work on Elephant:

When w3c decided to not use [s-expressions], but instead imitate SGML [for HTML], that showed a certain capacity to make mistakes — which, probably, they haven’t lost.


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