Re: Improper grounds for rejection of proposal N2677

From: Jukka K. Korpela (
Date: Wed Oct 26 2005 - 16:56:58 CST

  • Next message: Michael Everson: "Re: Improper grounds for rejection of proposal N2677"

    On Wed, 26 Oct 2005, Michael Everson wrote:

    > At 00:11 +0400 2005-10-27, Andrew S wrote:
    - -
    >> That it will "disrupt everything" and "invalidate oceans of existing data"
    >> I still don't understand.
    > A, B, C, D, E, and F are already used by *EVERYONE* for representing
    > hexadecimal data. My Calculator on OS X can even perform calculations using
    > them. Therefore, hexadecimal numbers are already represented by the letters
    > A, B, C, D, E, and F, and the proposal is a bad one.

    The proposal might be a bad one, but I think the rationale for rejecting
    it has not been sufficiently explained. How do the statements about
    disrupting everything and invalidating existing data follow from
    established use of A to F as hexadecimal digits?

    The issue might be important to future discussions, and clarifying the
    situation could help to prevent proposals that have no chances of getting
    approved, or at least have them rejected in a manner that better convinces
    their advocates.

    As far as I have understood, the proposal was about adding new characters,
    for use as hexadecimal digits, and normally with shapes similar to the
    letters A through F. And unless I'm missing something, the reason would be
    semantic disambiguation. (The proposal seems to present arguments related
    to font issues, too, but I must admit that I lacked motivation to read the
    rejected proposal in any detail.)

    If the (main) reason for rejection was that new characters will not be
    added to Unicode and ISO 10646 just to make semantic distinction, when no
    visual difference (normally) exists, then I think it would have been
    useful to say so. The same applies if the reason was that characters can
    be so added but only if a demonstrated need for the disambiguation, or at
    least tangible usefulness, is demonstrated. In that case, people
    would know that in cases like this, good arguments will be needed. But
    if the point is that semantic distinctions alone won't do at all,
    then it would be futile to collect and formulate such arguments.

    However, would the proposal, if accepted, have _invalidated_ existing
    data? In which sense? Even if it had said that the new characters are the
    recommended characters for use as hexadecimal digits, I do not see how
    existing data would have become invalid. Moreover, the way I see it,
    the proposal was just about semantically unambiguous _alternatives_, just
    as the hyphen is a semantically unambiguous (or at least considerably less
    ambiguous) alternative to the hyphen-minus. I don't see complaints about
    existing data being invalid just because it uses hyphen-minus.

    I don't see how the addition of new characters could _invalidate_
    existing data. Is this a matter of interpreting words like "invalidate"

    I can see many practical reasons for rejecting the proposal. Existing
    software would need some updates _if_ it wanted to handle the new
    characters e.g. when reading data in hexadecimal notation. But that would
    be optional. Someone might wish to convert existing data to use the new
    characters, but that would be his choice.

    Jukka "Yucca" Korpela,

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