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   Re: [xml-dev] Re: Are the publishing users happy? Why not?

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Norman Walsh writes:

 > I think it's hard in a deeper way than that. Riding a bike is hard to
 > learn but easy to do. Structured authoring is always harder than
 > riding a bike, even after you've learned how to do it.

Any kind of authoring is harder than riding a bike, but after the
steeper initial training curve, structured authoring is not harder
than using a word processor (especially if you have to follow a
third-party style guide) -- I've seen people going cross-eyed staring
at the screen for hours trying to figure out why everything was
suddenly indented 20 spaces.

Neither kind of authoring is an easy or natural thing to do, but the
initial learning curve for WYSIWYG is smaller and the skill is in more
demand.  People can learn to do all kinds of unnatural things easily
(like skiing or flying), but they have to decide if the benefits
outweight the costs of learning; you also get the
fear-of-change-disguised-as-smug-purism syndrome:

- it's better to remember things than write them down (Plato)
- it's better to write with a fountain pen than a pencil or ballpoint
- it's better to write than to type
- it's better to type on a manual than on an electric typewriter
- it's better to type on an electric than to use a wordprocessor
- it's better to use a DOS-style wordprocessor than a GUI one

I'm not going to put SGML/XML in the list because I don't think that
they're part of the same progression; instead, they're a branching-off
(like taking notes on a portable tape recorder).

All the best,


David Megginson, david@megginson.com, http://www.megginson.com/


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