Subject: Re: Lisp syntax, what about resynchronization?
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 1999/06/09
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Fernando Mato Mira <>
| And I know you don't like LaTeX (and obviously Knuth belongs to the pathetic
| `reinvent school', but what choice do I have?).
| What can we use then? Any `TexROLLisp' to offer? [It's a real question]

  the realness of the question is evident, but I don't have time to answer
  this fully, now.  it's fairly involved, which is also why I haven't
  gotten around to write something about what attracted me to SGML and what
  made me leave except in commentaries on comp.lang.lisp and comp.text.sgml.

  what do I use myself?  somebody else.   a consistent, simple style in
  plain text makes it possible for skilled typographers to make printed
  text look very nice.  authors generally think they know too much about
  typography, or if they have the wherewithal to realize they don't, go to
  extraordinary lengths to make life for typographers needlessly hard.
  working _inside_ the publishing business also tells you which problems
  SGML were hoped to solve and their magnitude, but also their reason: most
  authors don't know jack about the _logistics_ of writing books, much less
  publishing them.  most authors write books like mad generals conduct
  wars: without concern for how their troops shall get fuel and food and
  ammo.  but if you can't think in terms of logistics, at least have enough
  respect for those who do that you help them by staying out of their way.
  I found it wise to get out of the way, not only because it's a horribly
  _practical_ industry: they just do _whatever_ it takes to get a book out
  (SGML was like asking miners to use latex gloves so they wouldn't leave
  finger prints on the ore), but also because SGML couldn't help anybody at
  the level they actually needed help.  SGML is a giant conflation of what
  was once a noble division of labor, much worse than the incredibly stupid
  stuff Microsoft thinks is publishing, because Microsoft thinks WYSIWYG is
  going to make skilled typographers happy (hint: they aren't), but SGML
  makes authors _aware_ of the structure that had hitherto been implicit,
  and few authors, except highly skilled technical writers, have any idea
  what their structure communicates until a _long_ way into writing it (if
  we're lucky), or them (if we aren't).

  if you want to consider my web pages in terms of their design, take a
  look at this excellent explanation of what I didn't know I was doing
  before visiting them:

  I have been on both ends of the publishing business: I have published
  many articles in magazines and newspapers -- never have the editors been
  happier than when receiving plain text -- and I have helped write the
  software to make a giant web of mad user input into books -- it is not a
  pretty sight.  so I decided to make my plain text a pretty sight and let
  somebody else make my plain text into pretty formatted page layout.

  hope this is a start at an answer, at least.

@1999-07-22T00:37:33Z -- pi billion seconds since the turn of the century