I learned Lisp in college for an AI course. It was ok, but I didn’t get hooked. Later, I learned that Lisp was easy to write (from an interview with Richard Stallman). I wanted to write a small language to experiment with. That got me hooked. That was 2001.
I started learning about Common Lisp in 2002. By 2004, I was using it in all of my grad school assignments, much to the surprise of my professors. I started studying On Lisp, which was free, and I was a cheapskate. It really broadened my ideas about why Lisp was interesting on a philosophical level. In 2007, I created a website (which did not go anywhere) using Common Lisp. It was a great experience since it was my first foray into modern web development. I also created the first LispCast videos and began blogging.
In 2008, I learned about Clojure at the Lisp 50 convention. It seemed interesting so I gave it a shot. I never looked back. Clojure was so well designed and such a pleasure to use, that although it did not have a lot of the oomph of Common Lisp, I could tell that there was a way forward. Common Lisp seemed antiquated, though containing a lot of built-up wisdom. Clojure was a fresh start, built upon that wisdom, but totally free from the chains of the past. And being on the JVM with good interop meant there were tons of libraries I was already familiar with.
I wrote quite a bit of code in it on my own, tracking its development, just on the side. In 2013 I got a fulltime job in Clojure, and I am loving it. I like that I now have reason to contribute back to clojure.core and other libraries.
Clojure, to me, is a leap forward for the industry. It is well-designed with a thoughtful set of principles. It’s not the end-all-be-all of languages, but there is a lot for me to learn and there’s a lot of runway for the language. It is still not done evolving. And macros let it evolve through libraries, such as it has already done with core.async.
It is not only my favorite language of the moment. It is also a language I have tied my fate to, in a way, having created the Introduction to Clojure video course for sale. I am working hard toward making teaching Clojure (and other functional languages) into a full-time business.