Word Processors (was OT: Microsoft crazy academic deal)
Brian L. Stuart
blstuart at bellsouth.net
Thu Aug 21 14:01:42 CDT 2008
From: "Eric J Korpela" <korpela at ssl.berkeley.edu>
> ... I've been using LaTeX for just about all my
> writing since '87 or so.
Same here, and from a very similar timeframe. ObClassic:
before that I used troff quite a bit. I've honestly
never understood the sense that it's somehow a problem
that you don't see the visual results of the layout as
you type. Part of it is that I find anything changing
on the screen other than the characters I type to be
very distracting. The other part is that with the
application of just a little of my brain I can know
what it will look like close enough that anything that
matters while I'm typing is known. And that doesn't
begin to address the quality of the results. I've
been ruined by reading Knuth's stuff on typesetting.
I can't even look at my old troff results without
cringing. Word processor output makes me feel physically
On the other hand, those times I've been forced to
use a word processing or similar WYSIATI (what you
see is all there is) system have been pretty painful.
When learning a certain technique in something like
troff or TeX, I get a sense of intellectual benefit;
I feel connected to people of great intellect through
the personality and spirit of their results. When
I use word processors (even though the intellect of
their creators may also be great), I don't feel that
sense of intellectual growth. I just feel like I've
memorized one more thing that didn't really teach me
I often hear issues like this discussed with the term
"user friendly" applied. But that term has always
bothered me. The presumption is that it is easy to
use in some sense. But there is a major difference
between easy to learn and easy to control. I find the
two rarely go together. And when I'm writing, I want
the control, not the ease of learning.
> I'll probably still be using LaTeX 10
> years from now.
I've used TeX/LaTeX for everything from letters to
resumes to papers to books, and I plan to use TeX/LaTeX
for the rest of my time on the planet. Hopefully,
there won't be too many situations where I have to
take a detour to something else.
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