[Edu-sig] On case sensitivity

Skip Montanaro skip@mojam.com (Skip Montanaro)
Fri, 4 Feb 2000 16:31:19 -0600

I'm just trying to catch up on this list.  Sorry if I'm late beating a dead
horse...  A couple things come to mind.

1. Perhaps the language doesn't need to be changed.  Guido talked about
   putting case-desensitization magic in the programming environment, not in
   the language.  If that can be done well enough, then that can be the
   default there (with perhaps a flag to disable it).  Most of us old-line
   programmer types will probably continue to use Emacs, vi, Joe, BBEdit or
   something else to edit our files anyway.

2. Dave Scherer wrote:

      eNGLISH IS NOT cAse SenSitiVe, although there are certainly strong

   But certain dialects are getting more so.  As more and more people grow
   up with computers, the dialect of (written) English they use will more
   and more be the Internet dialect with its SHOUTING, *emphasis*,
   smileys/emoticons, and curious acronyms like ROTFL and RTFM.  The upshot
   of this is that people will gradually get more comfortable with the idea
   and "SHOUT", "Shout" "*shout*", and "shout" mean subtly different things
   depending on context.

3. Dave also wrote:

      Cockroaches are much more numerous than humans, but I prefer humans to
      cockroaches in all respects.

   To which I respond:


4. And later in the same message, there is an apparent contradiction with
   the cockroach statement:

      The needs of the (10M?) programmers in the world are vastly outweighed
      by the needs of the six billion normal people.  They are always right
      and we are always wrong.  Randy and Guido are 110% right about that.
   So we should stop cleaning our tables and countertops after dinner,
   right?  <wink>

   The more serious point is that majority rule accepted blindly can have
   substantial negative consequences for minority members of the population.
   It frustrates me to no end to see people release software that *only*
   runs on Windows, even though I know that "majority rules" or "the VCs
   have never heard of Unix".

I'm not suggesting that moves toward making Python case-insensitive are
being undertaken blindly, just that the needs of the minority shouldn't be

Skip Montanaro | http://www.mojam.com/
skip@mojam.com | http://www.musi-cal.com/
"Languages that change by catering to the tastes of non-users tend
not to do so well." - Doug Landauer