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Re: format/fill of text in a cell in tables

From: Tim Cross
Subject: Re: format/fill of text in a cell in tables
Date: Fri, 17 Dec 2021 23:11:47 +1100
User-agent: mu4e 1.7.5; emacs 28.0.90

<tomas@tuxteam.de> writes:

> [[PGP Signed Part:Undecided]]
> On Fri, Dec 17, 2021 at 08:51:59AM +1100, Tim Cross wrote:
> [on flowing text whithin table cells]
>> I agree. This is actually a much harder problem to solve than it may
>> appear on the surface [...]
> Tables have an advantage if your approach is an explorative one, i.e. if
> the process is part of the result. I don't think they are as successful
> as they are for no reason (SQL, or R's data frames are about tables, after
> all, so it's not only Excel). If you want your reader to take part in
> the exploration process, a table might just be right.

Yes, sometimes tables are extremely useful - especially wrt 2-d
relationships I'm not against the use of tables, but do find their use
as a formatting/layout tool limited. Unfortunately, this is often how I
see them used. Much of my work has been with databases, so conceptually,
I often think in terms of tables, rows and relationships. More often
than not, while tables are good for simple entities, they are poor for
modelling because things often break down into hierarchies and related
sets etc.  

Many years ago, I worked on a system which used an interesting interface
which used 'cubes' to represent database information. At the time, all
of us who worked on the system dreamed of the day when you could have a
hologram display, true 3-d manipulation and linking of data cubes with
the ability to interact and walk around it to cut (slice) the data in
different ways. It was a lot of fun, but at the time computing power was
not quite up to the task. We even used an interesting logic based on
work done by a mathematician called Charles Peirce, who defined a
deductive logic based on graphs where your basic logic operations were
done through the union, intersection and projection of graphs etc. An
interesting approach which seems well suited to modern computer
interfaces (despite the fact he lived from 1839-1914). 

> The point you make about assistive technologies is hugely important. I
> haven't much experience with blind people myself, but I'm convinced that
> their perception of dimensionality (2D, 2D vs 3D) could be quite
> different from that of sighted people. Is a table an advantage or a
> disadvantage then? Does it depend on the strategic path they have
> chosen? Do some feel better at 3D? 5D? [2]

I have been legally blind my whole life and for 17 years, I had nothing
but light/dark perception (I could tell when it was day and when it was
night, or if a light was on, but that was about it). I was lucky to
regain some sight about 11 years ago and can now see colour, shapes and
even sometimes recognise people (though much of that is about other
cues, like hair length/style, clothing, deportment etc. I have a large
screen and use a large font, but rely heavily on text-to-speech. I'm
sort of between worlds - enough sight to prevent me really developing
'sightless'skills, but not enough to rely on sight for reading etc. My
braille is comprehension is terrible.

I know a few totally blind mathematicians and their skills are
impressive. Quite a few of them have ended up working in fields relating
to topology. I suspect that not having sight actually helps them in
their mental model of n-dimensions when n > 3. Sighted people seem to
find such dimensional thinking challenging and I suspect it is because
they are more accustomed to a 3-d world. For me, I have only 1 eye, so
no depth perception and a somewhat 'flat' view of the world :-).  

> * WYS ain't WYG
> Lastly, Org ain't WYSIWYG (well, duh). But such things as flowed cells
> are measuring it up to one, up to a point (although, at some point, I
> admit to having yearned for some). A strength is a weakness is a
> strength. I think it is the nature of Org to live with such conflicts.
> It's an interesting place, where it lives :-)

Yes, I can see why people like WYSWYG when editing. However, my
experience with such systems as more often than not been extremely
frustrating as I seem to end up constantly fighting with the system to
get it looking right rather than focusing on the content. I remember the
joy I had when I discovered Latex and how it allowed me to focus on
content and leave presentation to others who undoubtedly had far better
skills then me. Often the problem with WYSWYG is that it isn't always
true - more like WYSCWYG (what you see is close to what you get).  

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