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Subject: Re: [tm-pubsubj-comment] Baltimore minutes

Lars Marius Garshol scripsit:

> Given the choice between stability and memorability I believe we
> should choose stability every single time.

I agree completely.

> In fact, the two are
> fundamentally opposed, because having identifiers that are meaningful
> to humans means there will be reasons to change those identifiers
> based on what they mean to humans.

This, however, goes too far.  As I pointed out a year or two ago, the
human-meaningful identifier "Roma" has referred to exactly the same
city for the last 2756 years, a record of stability unmatched by
any meaningless identifier whatsoever.  AFAIK, certain house-numbers
are the oldest such, and they date back a few centuries at most.

What matters is that the authority which assigns the identifiers, whether
meaningful or not, is or is not committed to stability.  The numerical
identifiers formerly used in the U.S. to identify kinds of businesses
(now replaced by the NAICS codes) were regularly reassigned when new
members were added to the set, due to a desire to have the human-readable
labels come out in alphabetical order when the codes were sorted

John Cowan  jcowan@reutershealth.com  www.ccil.org/~cowan  www.reutershealth.com
"If I have seen farther than others, it is because I am surrounded by dwarves."
        --Murray Gell-Mann

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