Wednesday, March 19, 2008

postel and pedantry

Joel Spolsky tackles the flames greeting the decision to have Internet Explorer 8.0 support a revised refined "better" "Standards" mode in another entertaining article that employs an interesting example of MP3 players on Mars. The second half of the article brings up Jon Postel's robustness principle: be conservative in what you do, be liberal in what you accept from others. This is something that abounds in several areas of software development. It also reflects, for me, the state of communication. It makes pedantry extremely hard and unrewarding. After all, if you've understood what the other person was trying to say, any attempt to correct the words and phrases used (or abused, if things are in really bad shape) seems like a waste of time. Yet, there's so much time wasted as the brain tries to rearrange and remedy the words heard or read. Apologists for the evolution of language and creative expression will argue quite convincingly in favour of such errors that may eventually, as history has shown us on several occasions, make their way into the language. The "wrong" becomes "right." But evolution cannot assuage the pedant's wounded eyes and ears.

No comments:

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.