[OT] IT Religions -- the ugly side...

Andrew Reid andrew.reid at plug.cx
Tue Jan 22 11:28:21 CST 2002

On Mon, 2002-01-21 at 17:26, Brian Astill wrote:

> > Take for example this passionate opposition to HTML email owing to
> > the stubborn determination of many community members to use the most
> > complicated text editor imaginable (vi or Emacs) for email and look
> > down on people who don't with disdain - even though Vi is a remnant
> > of the days before computer screens when a printer was the only form
> > of output.
> It is not true that there is a "stubborn determination of many 
> community members to use the most complicated text editor imaginable 
> (vi or Emacs) for email".  Un*x people use Pine, Elm, Kmail, Mutt, you 
> name it.  Almost none would use vi or emacs.

Firstly, neither vi or emacs are hard to use. They're downright child's
play, especially if you're using the X-capable version of each.

Secondly, Mutt uses vi as its editor by default. It's quite useable -- I
lived with it for quite a while until I changed it to Emacs.

Lastly, your assertion that "Almost none would use vi or emacs" is just
plain wrong. What about Gnus or VM? They're quite popular mailers. Mutt
uses vi by default, and I believe you can configure Pine to use vi as
the message editor, too. I've used vi and emacs with my mailer for ages.

> Nor is it true that the objection to HTML is based on editor 
> capability.  The objection is based on (1) the fact that HTML 
> significantly increases bandwidth without adding anything to message 
> legibility and (2) the fact that HTML messages can (and do) force the 
> receiver to download images and other trivia which can cause 
> inconvenience to the receiver.

The main thing with HTML is the inconsistency. On one mailer, it's going
to look quite readable. I general, if we were to go by the way /our/ own
HTML-capable mailers can send HTML mail, I'm sure we'd be wondering what
the problem with it is.

Take your HTML message to another MUA, and you're sure to find that the
message doesn't display the way you thought that it would. When you deal
with plain text, that issue's not there.

> > > Today's savvy home users are editing DV video, creating
> > > high-quality digital photo albums, playing high end 3D games, and
> > > creating DVD-R movies of their kid's birthdays. 
> Doesn't this last paragraph give the lie to your idea that users are 
> not in a position to use "complex" software?

Playing 3D games isn't exactly brain surgery. Neither is editing video
or cutting a DVD movie. A Macintosh is testament to that. 

The general populous isn't in a position to use the CLI, for example.
That's what counts as complex. Using a mailer where everything has to be
done using keystrokes rather than the mouse is too complex for most
people (ie, Mutt, Pine, Elm, etc.).

Linux /is/ making progress, there's no doubt. Organisations like Ximian
are making it that much easier for people to use Linux these days.
They've developed a functional, GUI-based mailer and a rather useful
tool to rival "Windows Update".

They're getting there, but they've still got some work to do.

   - andrew

Andrew J. Reid                    "Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem
andrew.reid at plug.cx               mihi dabis, ad caput tuum saxum immane
+61 401 946 813                   mittam"                               

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