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Re: [volatile] status update

On Thu, Dec 23, 2004 at 12:34:31PM -0500, Brian Nelson wrote:
> On Thu, Dec 23, 2004 at 05:05:28PM +0100, Andreas Barth wrote:
> > there has been some silent work on the volatile archive. Now, the
> > archive is ready to have some packages uploaded.
> Maybe I'm a little late, but I have some concerns with the name.
> >From WordNet (r) 2.0 (August 2003) [wn]:
>   volatile
>       adj 1: evaporating readily at normal temperatures and pressures;
>              "volatile oils"; "volatile solvents" [ant:
>              {nonvolatile}]
>       2: liable to lead to sudden change or violence; "an explosive
>          issue"; "a volatile situation with troops and rioters
>          eager for a confrontation" [syn: {explosive}]
>       3: marked by erratic changeableness in affections or
>          attachments; "fickle friends"; "a flirt's volatile
>          affections" [syn: {fickle}]
>       4: tending to vary often or widely; "volatile stocks";
>          "volatile emotions"
> Does anyone really want software on their system that meets any of those
> definitions?  

Yes and No. That's the whole point ;)

> It's even scarier sounding than "unstable" or

more flamboyant, more specific, perhaps, but a very similar meaning.
scarier?  Anyone judging by the names alone should be able to work out which
side of the fence they need to be. It works for me.

> "experimental"...

I just love that name ...

For volatile, 'volatile' is still the best I've heard so far.  

At the risk of spoiling the magic, this is why I like it:

It's primary, most connotation-free, neutral meaning seems to be roughly:


This is good fit with the problem.

It's wider connotations are colorful and energetic, whilst suggesting
caution (which seems both appropriate and fundamental, at least at this stage)
In particular it seems to lend a self-deprecatory twist of gallows humour to 
the real tension of harnessing and making stable the wild forces of the 
raw materials.  To "pull it off" will truly be dynamite!

It seems to have originated naturally without a name search early in the
conversation and to have been readily adopted and understood by participants,
with the inevitable name search, when it came, producing a healthy crop
of symptoms, in much the way as you would wish for a childhood disease.

The only other term I have noticed in use, in the wild, is 'perishable'.
This is also a great use of language, filled with the sadness of creators
of software that blooms and dies young.  volatile seems the natural
and poetic counterpart to this term on the packaging side.

My favourite Toy Story suggestion so far has to be "wheezy", by a long way.
But this leans heavily on my interest in the a/v etc side of things.

I grant you that all this may not be the acme in suit-friendly.
But if the time comes ripe, I'm sure a make-over will be possible.
I would imagine some degree of hyperbole around 'timeliness', perhaps
with an edge that suggests discernment and taste: not just news, but
news that matters ... ;)

Perl 6 will give you the big knob. -- Larry Wall

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