What if

For those interested in writing documentation, what if you
you could place images in your content with the same ease
you place words? I'm not talking about desktop publishing.
Don't think Publisher, think Vim, Emacs, Eclipse raising
images to the level of words. Rich metadata wrappers for
your growing library of images, which you now refer to as
'visual explanations'

I for one would be tickled pink by such an authoring

What if your document contained layers like programmer,
administrator and user. You could, at any point place your
content on the layer targeting the appropriate audience.

Me, I'd grin ear to ear.

What if your environment understood how to manage your
content as chunks which would become available for
repurposing, What if it also understood how to run code and
knew it's way around your filesystem?

I'm thinking "cat's pajamas"

What if this tool understood that there's a Web out there,
that folks are creating and sharing at a breakneck pace,
knew how to publish and subscribe?

--Wiggle with delight--

What if the toolchain existed as an open source project
which, via global collaboration, was assembled using
existing best practices, tools, and standards-based data
management principles?

I want one.

What if audio chunks were similarly elevated?

Woof. As BB King says in So Excited,
"I better stop now because I got a weak heart"


An example

I yammer about documentation, combining images and text.

I have posted a primitive example here:

It is about the mechnism to add capability to Inkscape with Python code.

I like the connection of code to the result in the GUI.

I like the triangle between the 3 uses of "text" in the code, illustrating the requirement for synchronization.

I like the screen grabs of using the application; setting password in winpdb, attaching to demo.py, with a highlighted connection to the germane line in the script. I consider screen grabs of what is being done much more informative than a textual description.


So I want to change the name of a Python module. It requires a bit of search and replace, brings me to a familiar fork in the road. How much effort should I put into learning tricks which increase editing efficiency? Should I slog through changing `grab` to `grabber`, or should I study up on regex in Vim so that the process is automated to some degree? I think it was Douglas Adams who described his (geekdom's) propensity to spend several days tuning a bit of code that avoided 15 minutes of tedium.

Here's the toolchain:

thought -> fingers -> keyboard -> Vim -> file -> code -> interpreter -> action

There are toolchains within each of the elements above.
Can toolchains be generalized into a cognitive equivilent of timelines?
Hope so, generalizations and equivilence are always good.

Each element of the chain offers opportunity to consider the trade off between getting 'er done, and adding or improving a tool. Abraham Lincoln is credited something like "If I had 6 hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend 4 sharpening the axe"


A story

I'm attempting to come out, establish my identity out there. Here's a retelling of a story which I consider really important. I wish I could find the original, I try periodically, no luck.

It was told as being a description of an actual event.

A researcher was administering evaluation exams to members of an Indian Nation, I think it was in the southwest. Exams like SAT, meant to determine knowledge level.

The researcher passed out the exams, said he'd be back to check progress in 1/2 hour.

Upon his return, he was shocked to find everyone in the room discussing the questions, comparing answers.

"This is all wrong, you are cheating, the purpose of this test is to determine what each one of you knows, you MAY NOT talk to each other during this test."

The next time he checked in, he found the examinees making paper airplanes from the tests, telling jokes, they had abandoned any pretense of taking the test.

The examiner asked what was going on.

"What your requested makes no sense, has no meaning. You don't understand how knowledge works. Knowledge is held by our community, not by individuals. Your interest in individual knowledge is foolish and we won't participate"

An analogy might be a contest among pianists, they are only allowed to use one finger. Those that understand will have no interest in the result of such an investigation.

This is from the same culture which honors giveaways, the quality of one's gifts determining level of respect, not the amount one accumulates.

I think these are principles which are taking on new life in the infoworld. Cooperation and collaboration are being valued over competition. The open source world is a gift culture.