PurelyFunctional.tv Newsletter 218: Lisp and Flow

Issue 218 - March 27, 2017

Hi Clojurers,

I've been doing a lot of research lately into the experience of flow and expertise. I really like Lisp. I think Lisp complements the way I think very well. And one of the aspects of it that engages me so much is that experience of flow that you get when you're deep in a programming session. But what is it about Lisp that helps me get into flow? That's what I've been researching.

Please enjoy this flowing issue.

Rock on!

PS Want to get this in your email? Subscribe!


I messed up the link to this awesome Clojure newsletter (by Daniel Compton) last week, so here it is. I doublechecked that it works :)

BTW, thanks to everyone who did let me know about the mistake. I always appreciate it.

Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise

Peak is Anders Ericsson's popularizing book about the science of expertise. One of the most important aspects for becoming an expert is fast feedback. In other words, we need to quickly see the results of our actions. Fast feedback has been a part of the Lisp experience since very early---it comes with the REPL. And it's vitally important to learning skills.

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

Flow is the classic book about the experience of flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Sadly, I've never read it, but it's the definitive book in the field and I believe there is a law that you 1) have to refer to this book and 2) apologize for pronouncing the name wrong. It's now on my reading list.

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Deep Work is a great book by Cal Newport. It explores the necessity for mental space and focus in our ever more connected world. Its practical advice has had a deep influence on me and my work.


Nicky Case has created a new tool for creating your own interactive simulations. It's simple but can create powerful systems.


KLIPSE is a plugin for writing Live and Interactive, embedded editors on webpages. It works for a variety of languages (including Clojure). Tools like this can be used to create interactive documents using programming languages.

Paren Soup

Another great embeddable editor, this one is just for Clojure. It comes from Zach Oakes, the creator of Nightcode. It has parinfer and an instarepl.

ClojureScript meeting in Portland

I'm going to be speaking at the PDX Clojure meetup this Wednesday, the day before Clojure/West. Thanks Julio Barros for putting this together. I'm also talking at Clojure/West about generative testing.

The Thank You Economy

I really value mental space and undistracted work. I love focus and flow. I love going deep. And achieving those things requires, at least for me, turning off communication media like email, Twitter, and Slack for long periods of time. This also seems to match a thread in the zeitgeist that distrusts social media and the distraction it can be.

For the sake of completeness, I wanted to hear another perspective. I've been reading Gary Vaynerchuk's book The Thank You Economy. As you may know, Gary Vaynerchuk is very connected through social media. He writes and talks a lot about it. I've never been one to think that it's destructive or inscrutible. It's just chit-chat and peacocking, which is nothing new.

What I've learned from Vaynerchuk's work is that we are already in a world, whether we like it or not, that is totally connected and distracted. And we can reach people on an individual level all over the world, as opposed to on a mass public level, like we could with TV and newspapers. The ability to talk to people one-on-one is invaluable to us as individuals. It lets us understand each other better, but it comes down to how we use the tools. I'm now experimenting with how to use social media for good use in my life.