Emacs Modernization Rant

By Xah Lee. Date:

Rod (roodwriter at ureach.com) wrote:

I suppose I could be flip and ask why don't they use Emacs' keyboard shortcuts? But I won't.

In flirtation, a major complaint from girls is that the guy did not finish the job. We surmise, the most common reason is fear.

Perhaps, a incomplete flirtation is a piquing of interest, a feeler, a tasting of water. For example, you feel like asking the question “why shouldn't other software adapt to emacs's UI instead”, however, you also somewhat see that this question is perhaps inane, but nevertheless do not totally understand why. Thus, you throw it out as a taunt, and want to see what i make of it?

Is this what you really wanted to ask?

You wrote:

Frankly, any keyboard shortcut is arbitrary. CNTL-V for pasting is a good example. Where is the "V" in paste? I see no logic there.

It always seemed to me that one of the reasons for the way Emacs has set up its keyboard shortcuts is the sheer number of them. I may be wrong, but I doubt that CUA would accommodate all Emacs' shortcuts.

While it's easy enough to argue that shortcut X would be better called shortcut Y--and maybe it would--I don't have any problem overall with Emacs' scheme. You do, and really, that's fine. But it appears to me that changing the shortcuts would cause more problems than they solve.

Judging you by your writing, i frankly think you are a average moron, which is typical of characters in newsgroups.

Y'know? often you hear people complain how stupid people are. Usually, we can hear these comments from people in the Customer Service department.

Like, the joke of people mistaking the CD tray for coffee cup holder. And, there are huge number of computer users who don't know how to do copy and paste operations (yes, really).

Frankly, in my eyes, you appear like these class of people. In fact, yesterday i wrote a unsent response full of insults and words of matherfaaking. It was unsent because i see some sincerity in your letter and felt my response would be unreasonable and could ensure my downfall.

Why did i feel you are a moron? By your vague statement about Emacs's keyboarding complexity, your statement of how CUA is not gonna do good, or your questioning as a proclamation of the origin of ZXCV keyboard shortcuts, and assertion that “any keyboard shortcut is arbitrary”. (and to my surprise, your message is followed up by one of the doofus, who actually used the whole message in wordiness to proclaim his no unstanding of ZXCV.) (but good thing that the question of the origin of ZXCV is subsequently answered in the thread by others)

Back to the colloquial joke about how stupid people are… i think from a scientific eye it is unreasonable. For example, i'm sure, people now at US's Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is bitching and complaining about how extremely stupid people are, when they are trying to process the tax documents. I can imagine, they'd complain from things like how people don't even know how to put a stamp, and unable to follow the simplest instructions.

I can understand. Because, although my IQ's is quite above average as well as my learnings, but when it comes to paperwork, i behave more like a idiot. I can see how the clerks at IRS is seeing me as a idiot who couldn't understand how i couldn't spend like 30 minute a year to get my taxes done. Likewise, i'm probably judged as a idiot in so many other departments and aspects, from behavior to relationships to communication to team work to English writing to programing.

But as you can see, the common joke about how people are stupid, is vague and or not realistic. First of all, it is a form of complaint. Complaining, is a major activity of human animals, as is in fact a healthy activity, and psychologically necessary. (This we can easily get some confirmation from the linguistic ethologist's eye of a language's vocabulary, by the great number of words that means complaining (bitching, griping, whining, grumbling, bemoan, deplore, bewail, whimper, crying out loud …). ) And, perceiving others as stupider than oneself is also natural and subliminally boost self-confidence and worth. Therefore, people tend to complain and perceive others as stupid, whereas in fact it is not necessarily so.

For the specific acts of those class of people being joked as stupid, it may have several factors that explains the situation other than low IQ. For example, if the IRS staff judged me idiotic for not able to fill taxes or do it, it's not because i'm idiotic, but rather, i have other personal problems or procrastination habits that made me apathetic to paperwork. For those who mistook computer CD tray for mug holders (a perhaps exaggerated joke), well, in all walks of modern life actually a few really need to be computer literate. For example, if someone who just moved to a modern country from a poor Africa, they sure will glare at a computer hardware like a turkey, not even to mention the concept of “software” and operations like copy and paste. Blue collar workers, in general don't need to be intimate with computers. Older people, who lived most of their lives before computers got ingrained into the daily lives of men, did not have the need, nor interest in spending the rest of their lives to be computer literate. They as a collective, for example, would rather, say, read literatures, art, open a boutique, or other things they missed out in their bygone busy lives. And, many highly educated people in modern countries, do not necessarily have to use computers despite its ubiquity, therefore on the occasion they may behave idiotic and be laughed at by the matherfaaking tech geekers when they started to open a Microsoft Word. Conversely, the lawers and businessmen type of folks, will and often do laugh at the computer coders as insensible and inflexible clods. Women, do collectively deride men's insensibility and inperceptibility, and men, sneer of women being tits and ass …

There are too many examples to keep going… but all in all, the ultimate judgement on the statement of “people are stupid” can come from statistical info on poeple's IQ. If we actually look at stats, researches, surveys on this, i think the result is still sad from my point of view, but overall you now understand that “people are stupid” is in general a unrealistic and not a meaningful gripe.

So, when i thought you are a moron, perhaps in reality you are not a moron. I mean, frankly, relatively very few in the software industry have done research or possess knowledge about software user interface, or its history, as i have. I sure have devoted a lot of my time in the past 16 years on this issue. Being a nerd of extreme severeness, with a abnormal infatuation with efficiency of all aspects. And in computer operation and data input department, i know basically all computer input devices that have been published, read essential all reviews of them, studied and use different keyboard arrangements, mastered purely keyboard operations in tens of software applications since 1991 (For example, Mac Finder, DOS, DOS applications, early MS Word, unix shells, Mac OS X, MS Windows, Emacs, Mathematica…) Mastered several commecial keyboard map/macro applications (CESoft's QuicKeys, Stairways Software's Keyboard Maestro, Apple's AppleScript, Microsoft's Intellitype Pro, etc.), and created a few customized keymappings my own (ResEdit Keyboard.rsrc, X-Window's xmodmap, elisp keybindings, OS X's “.keylayout”, etc.).

As a concrete info related to Emacs's UI and keyboarding, i am a QWERTY professional typist from ~1992 to ~1993, and am a dvorak touch typist since ~1993. I used Emacs daily since 1998. I mean daily, from Monday to Saturday and Sunday, everyday of the year, at least several hours a day. I have for example, created a entire website in recent years (~35 HTML pages) of tutorial on emacs and elisp, including a tutorial on Emacs: How to Define Keys, and one that gives a visual map of Emacs's keyboard shortcuts, and have provided a elisp tool that logs the frequency for emacs's commands as a way to help study a keyboard shortcut design (command-frequency.el), and a essay on how to avoid the common emacs pinky problem and also a review of 3 recent keyboards with a focus on ergonomics and Emacs's use (A Review of Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard).

The above, i think, qualify me as a expert on data input, or at least a expert of Emacs.

Also, i'm a man with a obsessive interest of mathematics. In particular, logic and geometry, but also mathematical philosophy. So, generally speaking but without another dozens of links to my published writing on my website, my expertise in these areas are comparable to a number of college graduates who majored in these areas.

So, when i read your careless claims that came with a attitude, i was in fact enraged: How can these people, faaking stupid morons, these matherfaaking newsgroup characters, often anonymous and nameless, spout their brainlessness just so to show they exist?

Sure, i'm aware i'm rather arrogant. But i did honestly felt, by your few claims in your response, that you are of no question a faaking, moronic, asshole — like so many other newsgroup responses to my writings — that your sole purpose is to faak about, and who really gives no shit about the topic of discussion.

As you now know, i now feel that my assessment is incorrect, and the element that made me regard the situation, is that one glimmering of sincerity in your post. Sincerity, is one quality i respect.

As you can see, we swerved off topic a bit. I don't think i've wrote more than, say, 20, messages in the past 5 years that are off topic. However, the sheer number of brainless responses in newsgroups, the hostility, and complete personal attacks, makes my apology of off-topicality seems like a joke. This letter, is a sort of retaliation and explanation, perhaps just so to conform to the driveling spirit of newsgroups.

If you are a good man, you could, remember, that the topic of this thread, is about modernization of Emacs. And if you have anything to contribute to this discussion, you can still do. You do not have a need to feel hurt, defeated, or being made fun of, and to generate another off-topic response or retort with humour. There is no shortage of them.

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