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RE: Emacs learning curve

From: Drew Adams
Subject: RE: Emacs learning curve
Date: Fri, 23 Jul 2010 09:02:55 -0700

> Let's say the newbie user who wants to copy with C-c/C-x/C-v 
> don't want to use the bindings C-w and C-y.
> Is it technically possible to implement a mode which binds 
> copy to C-c, cut to C-x, but before that it rebinds all
> C-x bindings to C-w and C-c bindings to C-y? It should do it
> dynamically, of course, so when a new buffer is opened with
> new bindings or a new minor mode is activated
> it should change the bindings on the fly.
> This way the newbie could also have a standard and consistent set of
> bindings, only the prefix keys would be different in newbie mode and
> veteran mode.

Why not teach newbies Emacs instead of teaching Emacs "Newbie"?

We've seen no _evidence_ about a supposed dearth of newbies coming to Emacs, in
spite of repeated _claims_.  No Emacs-is-dying problem has been shown, so far.

And yet we've moved on to back-and-forth discussions of _how_ to solve this
undemonstrated problem.  No problem => don't fix it.

It was pointed out that Emacs, like Spanish, has a reason to exist even if it is
not the most widespread language and it uses vocabulary and pronunciation that
foreigners (who are admittedly more numerous than Emacs speakers) can sometimes
find disconcerting.

You cannot get off the plane in Kashgar and expect to act (and expect others to
act) like you are still in your living room in Kansas.  You're _not_ in Kansas
anymore.  If you want to enjoy Kashgar, then learn a little Turkish and a little
Chinese.  And yes, taste the local food instead of whining about there being no

If you don't really want to taste the local food, speak the language, listen to
the music, dance the dance, and so on, then WTF are you doing in Kashgar?

And no, tourism to Kashgar and Emacs is not dying out.  Some tourists are really
interested in their trip and the destination.  Others are not.  That's all.  We
should not cater to the WannaMcDonalds.  Understand them?  Yes.  Remake
everything to make them feel at home?  Definitely not.

Emacs is a beautiful land.  Call it exotic, if you like.  Kansas it ain't.  And
even if it _were_ dying, the solution would not be to airlift MacDos to help it
fit in with the rest of the mess.

Call it a niche market, but Emacs, its vocabulary, keybindings, and so on is a
_system_ with its own raison d'etre.  It has internal coherency and consistency,
even if that sometimes conflicts with what outsiders might be used to.

No one claims that Emacs is perfect and its keybindings and vocabulary are set
in concrete.  But it is very good.  It has been refined by good, great, and
middling users and developers over a period of ~35 years.  It has evolved.

And improvements in keybindings, vocabulary, and such _are_ discussed here,
quite often in fact (possibly too often).  The simplistic do-what-newbie-expects
argument doesn't cut the mustard, however, and for good reason.  It just doesn't
add anything new to the party.

It's curious that these discussions start by pointing to real, solid features
that are in e.g. Eclipse but missing from Emacs.  Everyone agrees that Emacs
could do with a little catching up in some such areas.

But then, when it becomes clear that adding such features, while worthwhile, is
not trivial, the discussion morphs to newbie-izing key bindings.  The latter
discussion is facile - like taxes and government, everyone can have an easy
opinion about key bindings.

Emacs does need improving.  Eclipsify it, if you want, adding useful, powerful
features that actually do something.  Please do.  But stop with the binding-shed
color discussions.

Emacs and its internal logic are complex, like your eyeball or your kidney.
Such things are not to be fiddled with naively.

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