David Alan Hjelle08/20/2023, 2:27 AM
Let me speak generally for a moment. I've concluded that there are two basic metaphors for pre-computer writing. One is the long-hand manuscript page. The other is the typewritten page. Most word processors have decided to emulate the second — and, at first glance, that would seem to be the logical one to adopt. But, as a creative writer, I am convinced that the long-hand page is the better metaphor.
Consider: On a long-hand page, you can jump back and forth in your document with ease. You can put in bookmarks, either actual paper ones, or just fingers slipped into the middle of the manuscript stack. You can annotate the manuscript for yourself with comments like "Fix this!" or "Don't forget to check these facts" without there being any possibility of you missing them when you next work on the document. And you can mark a block, either by circling it with your pen, or by physically cutting it out, without necessarily having to do anything with it right away. The entire document is your workspace.
On a typewritten page, on the other hand, you are forced to deal with the next sequential character. Your thoughts are focussed serially on the typing of the document. If you're in the middle of a line halfway down page 7, your only easy option is to continue on that line. To go backwards to check something is difficult, to put in a comment that won't show when your document is read by somebody else is impossible, and so on. Typing is a top-down, linear process, not at all conducive to the intuitive, leaping-here-and-there kind of thought human beings are good at.
Andrew F08/20/2023, 2:45 AM
David Alan Hjelle08/20/2023, 11:23 AM
while Wordstar's block marking thing sounds cool, it sounds like a far cry from anything I would say resembles a long-hand page. I guess it doesn't take much when the competition is barely trying.Yeah. I’ve been reading a WordStar manual to see if there is more to it than that, but I’m not too far yet. So far, sounds a lot like a good text editor, but it’s hard to be fair from 40 years apart.
Jack Rusher08/20/2023, 11:39 AM
guitarvydas08/20/2023, 12:29 PM
Grant Forrest08/20/2023, 2:25 PM
Jason Morris08/20/2023, 8:58 PM
David Alan Hjelle08/20/2023, 9:00 PM
WordStar has one of the best attributes any piece of software can have: it rewards mastery. One can argue that the keyboard shortcuts are harder to discover than, say, drop down menus actuated with a mouse, but once they’re in your hands you can move faster than in any mouse-y interface.This seems to be surprisingly hard to do with modern software. Part of it is variety: I have a lot of word processors I have immediate access to, and so I haven't mastered any of them. (Nor, I suspect, do they reward master much.) I wonder, though, how much also has to do with our cognitive capacity. Modern software may have the same features, but unless I can get the features "in my hands" (mouse or keyboard or whatever I don't care, but it does need to be able to be muscle memory) the features may be about as distracting from creative thought as they are enabling.
Konrad Hinsen08/21/2023, 6:46 AM
guitarvydas08/21/2023, 8:03 AM
Worse, engagement is punished by frequent redesigns.Good point. Continuous deployment is detrimental to UX.