[OS X TeX] your wiki needs you?

Alain Schremmer schremmer.alain at gmail.com
Wed Sep 17 21:39:39 EDT 2008

On Sep 17, 2008, at 6:27 PM, cfrees at imapmail.org wrote:

> On Wed 17th Sep, 2008 at 18:01, Alain Schremmer seems to have written:

>> True, but I think that you still vastly the admittedly fear driven  
>> lack of understanding of people considering a possible alternative  
>> to MS Word. This is of course not to belittle the page 'Getting  
>> Started'.

> It depends on the sense in which they want an "alternative". If they
> want an alternative word processor, nothing will convince them to use
> TeX - and nor should it. But if somebody wants an alternative  
> approach,
> that's different.

I don't see the difference. I have met a number of people who have  
just expressed interest in LaTeX but said that  they had heard that  
it was hard to install, that the learning curve was steep, etc and  
that they were not THAT interested. So, I don't think that dividing  
the world into "word processor" addicts and people who will not be  
able to live without an alternative approach—for what reason would  
they? There are the people who are interested just because it is  
different, there are those who are interested because a friend of  
theirs has become a LaTeXite and they want, usually to a very mild  
extent, to know what it is about, etc

> Changing from Word to TeX is a lot of work.

It certainly was for me and I came as close to being flamed as is  
possible on this list when I suggested that I couldn't see why it had  
to be so. I still recall being admonished that, hey, LaTeX just isn't  
for "the faint of heart". The reason I am particularly sensitive to  
this argument is that, you know, between you and I, mathematics is  
just not for eveybody.

> I think you have to have a
> burning passion to do it.

I sure didn't and I still don't.

> (The burning passion can be fairly
> short-lived - a couple of weeks, maybe.) Otherwise, there's not enough
> motivation.

This may be because LaTeXites had built fortifications around it  
which force it to be besieged. I must say, though, that from what I  
read on this list, these times seem to be on the wane.

> Nothing is going to make it less work. You have to find out a lot of
> things. Then you have to do them. Then you have to convert any  
> existing
> projects. Time and effort. Something has to motivate that.

You are obviously talking about mathematics and there is no other way  
to learn mathematics than from Gauss and Bourbaki.

> If somebody is comfortable with Word - even a little irritated -
> there's just not enough reason to go through the process of switching.

Again, being uncomfortable with Word is not necessarily what  
motivates people. You know, some people are just plain curious.

> Which isn't to say it isn't good to make it seem less intimidating and
> more manageable or to soothe unfounded fears. But some of the fears  
> are
> well-founded and there's no getting around that, I think.

While these fears had good cause, the causes were often unnecessary  
and there used to be a "hermetic" side to LaTeX as with Mathematics.  
A "club mentality" if you would. However, the way I understand it,  
TeXLive and MacTeX 2008 are giant steps in a direction I like, that  
of "the rest of us".

> For what it is worth, I did not know how to create a redirect until
> yesterday. Now I've created at least two or three.

I have no doubt that I could learn. But learning this kind of thing  
is very hard for me and I am therefore very slow at it while time is  
something I am running out fast.

Still, in a week or so, I will try to correct those typos Slater  
left. Maybe I won't wreck the wiki.


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