[Edu-sig] On case sensitivity

David Scherer dscherer@cmu.edu
Fri, 4 Feb 2000 13:20:10 -0500

> >Why?  I've never seen any strong justification for case sensitivity other
> >than backward-compatibility with some other language or library.
> That's justification enough.  "Backward compatibility" in
> this context means being able to write in that language,
> even today.

Perhaps, but you made the argument that case sensitive is how things *should
be*.  My understanding is that Guido looks at Python 2 as an opportunity to
introduce a few incompatibilities to make the language a lot better, and
programs that depend on case sensitivity *could* in theory be fixed

> I don't insist that Chinese drop reliance on tonality
> because "meaning through tone is difficult for the Western
> ear".  Tone-sensitivity is here to stay as well -- if not
> in Python :-D.

If you did insist, they probably wouldn't pay much attention.  On the other
hand, how many Westerners actually know Chinese?  If we are the Chinese in
this analogy, and we want everyone to learn our language, we will get a lot
farther by changing the language than by trying to change everyone else.

This analogy breaks down because there are a lot of Chinese speakers, and
very few programmers.  The number of supporters of something doesn't predict
it's value, but it DOES affect "conversion cost."  The cost of converting
billions of people to think case sensitively exceeds the cost of converting
all existing Python code.

> The goal is to gradually erode this concept of OUR kind, versus
> "normal" people.  There is no "they" versus "we" in the ideal
> world for which CP4E strives.  No one gets to point the finger
> at those "cockroach" others.

This will not be accomplished by leaving the language and tools alone and
converting everyone else.  Ideal or not, it's not going to happen.  At best,
CP4E is asking a huge number of people to learn a huge number of new
concepts.  We need to meet them *more* than halfway.