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Re: [O] would take more than an org-mode strip-down.
Eric S Fraga
Re: [O] would take more than an org-mode strip-down.
Wed, 28 Sep 2011 10:39:47 +0100
Gnus/5.110018 (No Gnus v0.18) Emacs/24.0.90 (gnu/linux)
James Levine <address@hidden> writes:
I am not going to try to answer all of your points comprehensively but I
will chime in with some of my own views, as a very satisfied end user
albeit also a computer scientist (of sorts ;-).
> As an expert end-user but outside the computer science field, I’ve
> felt there to be a high cost of entry for working in org-mode. I like
> the idea very much, as I am trying to strip down to an Autofocus
> system and take a more intuitive, frictionless approach. Because I’m
> not following the play-by-play on the gnu boards, I thought I’d zoom
> out and tell you what a consumer experience is like:
> 1) It’s not that there isn’t enough documentation, it’s that there’s too much
> of it.
> Imagine that setting up a wordpress database is probably too
> much for the average person. You go to wordpress.org (and at this
> point you’d already need to read the fine print or you’d probably
> point to wordpress.com) and the button simply tells you to download
> “here”. Now what?
This has been discussed on this list at least once before. There are
links to all kinds of introductory material on the web site for org. I
would suggest you have a look at these and let us know what you think.
Although there is indeed a lot of documentation, I would rather have it
this way than the opposite. Most systems seem to love having just
skimpy documentation, relying on the fact that x% of the users will not
need more. I want more.
In any case, you don't need to read all the documentation to start using
org. cf. tutorials mentioned above. The documentation is there for
when you want to start doing *more*.
> In other words, if you want to expand popularity among
> end-users, not coders, there needs to be a middle ground: the visual
> step-by-step needs to be uncluttered by additional
> description. Org-mode is further obscured by the fact that other
> services, a text editor and such need to be pointed to as well in the
yes, well, but org is in Emacs and that's what many of us like. Not all
which is why there are tools in development for emulating org in vi, for
instance. But unlike the other tools you mention, org is not a
> retention, it floods it. The gnu support community, like this email,
> is very heavily text-based.
yes, and that's its greatest feature, in the minds of many. I don't
want graphical interfaces etc for a number of reasons. This is
obviously a personal view!
> 2) Some things are just better with a gui.
Very few, IMO. :)
More seriously, for those of us that suffer (or have suffered) from RSI,
GUIs are an abomination.
> I’m referring specifically to the more popularized use of tags
> or “keywords.” Most all the file management clients fail at this
> somewhere. You are requiring people to be literate, as in secondary
> school spelling-NOT culture, not just in a single instance of clarity,
> but in a manner that can be consistently repeated, while you’re
> catering to an audience that probably has a higher than average
> proportion of dyslexics, autistics, and college drop-outs in its
> Furthermore, tagging conventions are easy to break, and most End-Users
> won’t know to instill them to begin with. “Have I been using the
> plural of my common and collective nouns? What about that time I
> hashtagged a task to myself in my email and I put the tag in the
> Subject heading? Did I spell it the same way my tags were set up back
> on my desktop?” It’s too easy to orphan tags, spell them wrong, flip a
> p with a q. Without a pull up, cash-register-like cheat sheet that
> lets you touch the tags that you already made, one will leave a trail
> of junk mark-up. Not to mention, free tagging does not endorse a
> constrained vocabulary as it would, say, if you were trying to figure
> out what kind of lettuce someone was buying and you worked the
> register. I’m also inclined to believe that crossing something out
> with my finger, or putting a check in a checkbox is more intuitive and
> less prone to error than managing "[x]”s in a document.
But org does support tag completion: hit TAB when you are prompted for a
tag and you'll see what I mean. What is missing?
> 3) the 2nd problem ties in with this. Without a constrained tagging
> vocabulary and other conventions, an org-mode task system is not that
> easy to subscribe to when trying to encourage a team to get on
> board. The list is not inherently intuitive to all end-users. What is
> logic to one person is not logic to the next. (This may come as a
> surprise to many coders).
As soon as you constrain one aspect of the system, you constrain the
system's use. You can not identify all possible uses when doing the
design of the initial constrained system. As soon as you introduce
flexibility, this is the price you pay!
> 4) The master org-mode file will get lost in the shuffle. My litmus
> test for a good file management system is “if I’m sick or thankfully
> on a beach that day, can everyone else to whom my work pertains,
> understand for themselves how to incorporate what they need from me?”
> Are my naming conventions clear? Are my directory structures clear?
> Can people find them on their own, or are they going to call me while
> I’m trying to enjoy the beach? Can I effectively be a “ghost in the
> machine” for my institution? Or have I made people dependent upon me
> for the petty fact that my workflows are not understood by anyone
I agree but this is up to you and your team, not for org developers to
impose? My own view is summarised, if I may paraphrase, by
With greater flexibility comes greater responsibility.
> Again, feeding off point 3, org-mode does little to instill
> good file management habits. I do appreciate that the plain text
and nor does it get in the way of good habits! what is a good habit for
one person is not necessarily a good habit for another.
> An org-mode text document is just too flimsy to stand alone in the sea
> of files on a computer. That’s why evernote is successful-it’s a more
> orderly place for scraps. People used to muck up folders and drag
> stuff to their desktop with the same caliber of content. If you held
> your desktop as sacred, or your Emacs platform, what then happens when
> these other “temporary” odds and ends nonetheless compete with your
but org doesn't require you to use just one file. you can have several,
grouped in a directory or spread around your file system. whatever
works best for you! I have three main "task and note" oriented org
files (notes.org, tasks.org, diary.org) but then I have project specific
org files spread about my file system (which is well organised
> 5) I don’t subscribe to the notion that all ideas begin to take form
> through an Outline. Outlines were something pounded into lots of heads
true but outlines work well for many things. The nice thing about org
is that although it is built upon an outliner, it has tags, categories
and properties, all of which allow different views of the same material.
> Perhaps some instruction on bridging the free-association,
> brain storming, linear thinking, mind-mapping, UML, media files and
> inspiration, concepts directly into an Org-mode file would be of
> help. If I understood org-mode, I might even be the person to do
> it. Many ideas will never see a formal outline first (even if the
> concept of an outline latently exists)-only my software design
> documents or other specification sheets would show through with such
I am sure this would be welcome. A two way mapping between org and
freemind, for instance, would be nice. A one way export exists already,
> Please tell me if and where these points will be addressed, as their a
> slim chance of my renavigating to the live thread where I found your
> email (see point 1). Hope this message is in the right hands. I’m
> incredibly grateful for this line of communication and for the work
> you are doing, and I want to make this work.
Well, these points and many like them are discussed on this mailing list
(address@hidden). Subscribe and join in! All views are more
than welcome on this very friendly list.
On that note, please don't take umbrage at anything I have written
above! These are my own personal views based on using org for several
years and with org as a key focus for all of my working hours. But I am
indeed computer literate as opposed to "just" an end-user. On the other
hand, I am only a minor contributor to org and therefore have no ego
issues with criticisms of org! not to imply that those that contribute
more have ego problems, of course ;-)
Dive in and if/when you have problems with org, just ask! You'll get
plenty of advise.
: Eric S Fraga (GnuPG: 0xC89193D8FFFCF67D) in Emacs 126.96.36.199
: using Org-mode version 7.7 (release_7.7.329.g15c3)