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Re: if vs. when vs. and: style question

From: Pascal J. Bourguignon
Subject: Re: if vs. when vs. and: style question
Date: Fri, 27 Mar 2015 13:34:39 +0100
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/24.3 (gnu/linux)

Emanuel Berg <> writes:

> Just as in the discussion (1+ data) vs. (+ 1 data) the
> context - which here is: history, custom, and
> experience - and not the properties of the things
> compared, is the answer. With computers it is ASCII.
> On university whiteboards anyone can draw whatever
> chars anyone likes. I'm not saying, "Stop doing that,
> use ASCII instead", am I? So the university people
> should perhaps stick to their whiteboards as well!


This is to mean, there is still a lot of work to be done in computer
interfaces, notably for mathematical expression and manipulation, but
also for other data structures representation and manipulation by

Also, one has to consider that even unicode is a premature space
optimization, being a fixed encoding of discretized forms, when the
domain obviously is evolving.  They're adding new versions of unicode
with new characters (now emojis!)   There are klingon unicode
characters, why not futurama I & II unicode characters?  There's a green
turtle, why not a blue beetle?  I'm not sure the unicode combinations
are complete either and that one could write any "ideogram" combining
existing characters.

After all, unicode is a CODE.

One could imagine in the future, computer systems that would perform the
encoding on a "document" basis, where transmission would involve
transmitting fonts and encoding along with the document structure.
(Notice that Postscript has this notion (and can have any other, since
it's Turing Complete), but I'm not sure it's retained in the more
restricted PDF).  The idea would be to have more meta-information
provided along with the document.  We could imagine that a letter to
your grandma could be stored along with a "dictionary map" of the
language you used, containing sufficient information so that an alien
(or a computer system 1000 years later) intercepting it would be able
to understand it easily.  We would need more sophisticated software, to
be able to deal intelligently with those documents. 

But this leads us very far from the alphabetic and ASCII idea.

__Pascal Bourguignon__       
“The factory of the future will have only two employees, a man and a
dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to
keep the man from touching the equipment.” -- Carl Bass CEO Autodesk

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