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Re: What would an "An Official" GNU Emacs Book look like?

From: Marcin Borkowski
Subject: Re: What would an "An Official" GNU Emacs Book look like?
Date: Mon, 18 May 2015 21:14:47 +0200

On 2015-05-18, at 06:41, Vaidheeswaran C <address@hidden> wrote:

> On Monday 18 May 2015 09:31 AM, Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:
>> Vaidheeswaran C writes:
>>  > On Monday 18 May 2015 08:20 AM, Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:
>>  > 
>>  > > I'll be happy to cheer for you!
>>  > 
>>  > I'll be more happy if you help me by reviewing the drafts.  Is it Ok
>>  > if I Cc you?
>> No, please keep traffic on the list.  I've been on the 'net for almost
>> 20 years at this address, my filters are pretty fierce.
> Let me share what I have learnt:
>     "Never listen to people that are NOT helping you" :-P


I do not understand how "please do not send the message to me twice,
especially that it might end up in the spam folder anyway" (as I see it,
this is more or less what Stephen wrote) is "not helping you".

Personally, I am rather skeptic of this project.  I do not really
believe in books written by multiple people, and similarly I do not
believe in a book that has completely independent chapters/sections
etc. (AFAIU, this is what you propose).  Aren't you just reinventing the
Web, or an encyclopaedia, or EmacsWiki?  (Especially EmacsWiki.  AFAIR,
it was reinvented at least once, and the project failed, btw.  But its
main proponent had the balls to admit it, and earned my very high
respect in this way.)  A /book/ is something that has a clear beginning
and a clear ending, some structure inbetween, and is read from the
beginning to the end (with a possible exception of skipping a chapter or
two, at the reader's sole risk).  I once read a book whose premise was
that you can read the chapters in any order; while it seems to be an
interesting idea at a first glance, it was in fact unbearable.

Still, how is someone taking some time to say "beware of this and that"
/not/ helping you?

I had a following experience a few days ago: I had a great idea for
a lecture I could prepare for my university.  Though it meant (as
I estimate) something like 90-120 hours of work (at least), I was full
of enthusiasm.  I talked to four friends, and three of them warned me
about various pitfalls of the project.  In the end, I decided to resign
and devote that time to something else.  You know what?  They helped me
a lot.

If you want to help the Emacs community, I would guess your time might
be spent better in many other ways.  Look at some people who help the
community a lot.  Mickey Petersen.  Sacha Chua.  Artur Malabarba.  Oleh
Krehel.  Just to name a few (and excluding "senior Emacs developers") -
please don't treat the list as comprehensive, it's not!  Only one of
these people actually wrote an introductory book on Emacs (and a very
good one, though it has a flow from the beginning to the end).  Maybe
a set of video tutorials might be better?  Answering Emacs.SE questions?
Blogging on Emacs?  Writing good packages?  Maybe editing EmacsWiki
would be useful?  if you insist on something book-like, maybe some work
on Gnus manual?  Also, some time ago I studied some parts of Org-mode
source code; while refactoring it might not bring you fame and fortune,
it would definitely be something a few people (me included) would
appreciate /a lot/.

BTW, speaking of Org-mode, David's question seems legitimate.


Marcin Borkowski
Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science
Adam Mickiewicz University

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