Spaces in sorts

From: Alain LaBont/e'/ (
Date: Mon Feb 10 1997 - 10:07:27 EST

At 17:40 97-02-09 -0800, unicode@Unicode.ORG wrote:
>[John Clews]
>JohnClews can definitely tell you, and can confirm Michael's point
>exactly. In library school training, the term "word by word" was used to
>decribe sorting where space was significant (greater than NULL) and
>"letter by letter" to describe sorting where space was equivalenced to
>Some years after I was taught these things, computers came along in a big
>way in libraries. All computerised catalogues and their users did exactly
>what card catalogues did previously: sorted word by word (the easiest way
>to explain it), and everybody in libraries (staff and users) continued to
>live happily ever after.

When you don't know about a horror, it does not hurt you indeed... it is a
candid reaction...

If you search for "Harry" in a list and you don't retrieve it, because it is
sorted like this:


[50 pages]


... you maybe happy and believe the machine is right, thinking "the record
is not there", but you're nevertheless wrong in your candid happiness...

That is "character by character", or better, positional sort (which makes
less and less sense with proportional spacing when sometimes spaces are
reduced to very tiny spacing!), not human-friendly, whatever librarians
think, whatever name they give to this.

But if they want that, they'll get it, we have a toggle in ISO/IEC 14651...
(: However with their standard (TC37) we have no choice, users will not
retrieve what they search for in a list i the general case about this.

Alain LaBonté

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