From: David Wagner <>
Date: Sun, 8 Dec 2002 14:25:05 -0800 (PST)
Subject: [e-lang] Naming Capability Systems

Tyler Close wrote:
>So far, all of your
>arguments amount to believing that a new name is like magic pixie
>dust that pushes aside misconceptions without injuring the
>history.  You've done nothing to lend credence to this view.  So
>far, all you've got is wishful thinking.

Just to be clear: 

My argument wasn't that a pair of names would magically clear up confusion
all by itself, without any further work. 

Rather, my argument is that a pair of names would *enable* us to work
to clear up the confusion.   Without a name for the thing we're trying to
criticize, it's harder to criticize it.  Without a name for the concept
we're trying to advocate, it's harder to advocate it.

Whenever you are trying to communicate effectively, it is a good idea
to take into account the target audience.   If our target audience is
computer security researchers, the word "capability" currently comes
with some loaded connotations that might get in the way of communicating
our message.  One approach is to fight to reclaim the word "capability"
and to fix misconceptions about the history before we can communicate
our message.  An alternative approach is to decide that the real goal
is to communicate the essence of the idea, leaving names (and possibly
history) as a secondary goal.  I can't decide between these two approaches
for you, but I suspect you know which I'd advocate for.

So,  I guess I'd ask you: Do you object to the idea of having two names
(or two adjectives) that we can use when we want to distinguish between
"True Capabilities" (a la E) and "False Capabilities" (a la Lampson)?
Or do you agree with this in principle, but object to the specific choice
of names suggested here?  Or is it something else entirely?
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