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Re: basic question: going back to dired

From: William Case
Subject: Re: basic question: going back to dired
Date: Sat, 26 Jul 2008 02:18:25 -0400

Hi all;


On Sat, 2008-07-26 at 14:38 +1000, Tim X wrote:
> "Juanma Barranquero" <address@hidden> writes:
> > On Thu, Jul 24, 2008 at 14:36, Tim X <address@hidden> wrote:
> >
> >> But don't forget its not just a comp sci term. In fact, comp sci
> >> borrowed it from "normal" english. In my comp sci days, also in the 80s,
> >> it still had the more generalised term that fits with how emacs uses
> >> it.
> >
> > As would have lots of other terms. That's what I'm saying: "buffer"
> > seems like the perfect match for Emacs
> > data-structures-for-temporary-storage-under-whatever-name because
> > we've been using it that way for 25+ years, not because it is the
> > only, or more fitting, or more appropriate term.
> >
> > This conversation (not specifically with you Tim, I'm talking about
> > the thread) goes nowhere. I said that I'm not proposing to change
> > anything, but at the same time I *don't* believe there's anything
> > sacred on the terms used in Emacs today. They are the best just
> > because of long use and long familiarity. Which does not necessarily
> > apply to newbies.
> >
> Which is not that far from my position. Most of my comments are related
> to Xah and others who believe it should be changed. I'm not arguing it
> shouldn't be changed because its sacred or anything. My point is that I
> a) don't believe its as bad as some like Xah argue and b) nobody has
> come up with any alternatives that don't lose us more than they gain and
> c) I'm not convinced that changing all the terminology would actually
> change the number of new users who give up and don't bother because I
> don't believe the terminology is the main thing that makes new users
> give up. 
> Tim

I have heard and read this and similar conversations on the Emacs user
list and several other applications mailing lists over the last 3 years.
>From my personal experience both sides of the argument are right.  

New users find the terminology, extremely confusing and off putting.  It
takes a considerable amount of time to build up the concepts and
vocabulary to begin to understand how Emacs works; how to find your way
around 'help info'; and how to understand basic elipse variables and
functions.  On the other hand, the terminology used by Emacs is more
specific and accurate so that once a user becomes experienced, it is
much easier to find an answer and/or describe a problem with specialized

With open source software, both points of view can be accommodated.  I
believe that the point of FOSS is that applications can be amended and
augmented so that all perspectives can be included. There is no need for
"my way or the highway".

As a case in point, "shortcut keys" should be included in the glossary
and the various indexes.  They simply need to be linked to the info
section on "key binding".  The actual section on key binding merely
needs an introductory sentence or two explaining why the term "key
binding" is used in Emacs and why it is a better term for how Emacs
works than the more common term "shortcut key".  Similarly the section
on "buffers" could be linked to "page", "window" and "file" with a
forwarding link to the sections that deal with how these terms
themselves (page,window and file) are used in Emacs.

As I think about it, only about 10 -15 terms would need such synonyms.
For the purists, I would like them to cast their minds back to the first
time they used Emacs.  The concepts behind the various terms was never
too difficult to grasp, but surely you remember the hours wasted and
utter frustration that you must have had in the beginning just trying to
find a way into the program and trying to execute the simplest command
when NOTHING was familiar.

Regards Bill;
Fedora 9, Gnome 2.22.3
Evo., Emacs 22.2.1

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