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Re: Gather a list of confusions beginner tend to have

From: Göktuğ Kayaalp
Subject: Re: Gather a list of confusions beginner tend to have
Date: Thu, 10 Sep 2020 13:07:38 +0300
User-agent: mu4e 1.2.0; emacs 28.0.50

On 2020-09-10 05:36 +03, Richard Stallman <rms@gnu.org> wrote:
> I know it was long ago, but can you remember anything importantly
> useful about Emacs that you didn't recognize in those first attempts?

Indeed, tho let me try.  I don’t really recall exact things but I’ll
write out my pathway in a couple of paragraphs; maybe it’s a pattern
some people will recognise.

So I came to it as someone teaching himself programming, probably
sometime in 2012 or 2013.  But I must have been aware of it before,
given I’ve been using GNU/Linux since I was a kid.

I was basically editor hopping as I was trying to figure out programming
by myself, and in that timeframe used everything under the sun,
basically.  Emacs was particularly interesting as it was what ‘cool Lisp
hackers’ used.  But IIRC the first few times I was trying to use it more
like Vim, i.e. editor with extensions and an rc file.  For some reason,
probably because that cool kids factor, I stuck with Emacs for a while.

Then I worked a job as a Python dev for a month or so, around the end of
2013.  The colleagues made me switch to Vim because they had a pretty
decent Python setup, whereas my Emacs Python setup was nonexistent.  And
that stuck for a long while.  I built a 1.5kLoC vimrc (which I’ve
probably lost since...), and even wrote a couple plugins (one of which a
colourscheme which seems to still see some little use in the community).

When it clicked for me, what Emacs could indeed allow me to do, was
probably around some time in 2015.  By then I had moved on to pursue my
education in humanities, and needed to organise my notes, manage my
todos and agenda.  That’s when I came back to Emacs, IIRC.  Typed in a
ton of notes into Org mode format.  And I stuck with it from then on.

At some point between some time after my switching to Vim and and later
finally swithing to Emacs I must’ve read a lot, possibly through Hacker
News, about Emacs and Org mode, and gathered a more refined view of
what’s possible with these tools.  And I recall being very frustrated
with the ‘unix way’ because it was never as neat as people made it seem
to be: I was having a difficult time fitting things together, especially
for non-programming toils the switch to humanities brought about.  I
also should’ve first watched ‘A Tour of Acme’ by Russ Cox [1], and it’s
not an exaggeration to say it’s one of the most influential moments in
my life with computers.  It must have clicked for me soon after that
that I could make out of Emacs what I wanted: an ‘integrated computing
environment’ where I can make things work for me, and fine tune
everything at almost any depth, and do all that interactively.

That seems obvious to me today, but back in those few years it must’ve
been a puzzle for me how actually this kind of stuff happens, how people
could make more use of Emacs than just as a text editor or IDE.

Hopefully that’s not one long wall of text with a completely irrelevant
personal story.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dP1xVpMPn8M

İ. Göktuğ Kayaalp / @cadadr / <https://www.gkayaalp.com/>
pgp:   024C 30DD 597D 142B 49AC 40EB 465C D949 B101 2427

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