On Sep 25, 2010, at 12:55 PM, Rich Cooper wrote:
The real issue, from my viewpoint, is just how UNNATURAL the language can be before turning the users back to hiring computer operators instead of doing their work firsthand on the available computers and software. My experience with UNNATURAL languages is that they don’t function as normally advertised.
What I'm beating on here is that the language used inside software applications—the systems that ensure milk gets delivered to my supermarket & that my checking account is properly balanced by the bank—the language used is U-G-L-Y.
Natural language is the stuff you read in the NYTimes... it's been explicitly written to be read by another human, PLUS edited by a professional editor for readability. The software that runs invisibly in the background of our lives is written to make a computer do something. It is mostly not written for readability. Such resources easily succumb to statistical analysis.
When another human comes along & needs to read software, because there are effectively no rules for such language (other than the technical restrictions on length & separators between terms) it can be a slow & error-prone process to understand what cryptic abbreviations mean.
IF there were a mechanism available to help the analyst/programmer to quickly understand that at line 1503 in program LCCIIL02 "MIT" means male impotence test (rather than Massachusetts Institute of Technology) this would be socially useful.
To repeat: EM Forester's "The Machine Stops"... if we cannot maintain the "machines" (e.g. software applications) that support our society, this is not good.