motivating <| as structure representation, not operator

Claus Reinke claus.reinke at
Sat Nov 19 09:09:39 PST 2011

> If I may, two suggestions: For longer posts, an executive summary
> with the main points might make sense (not sure if I’m always
> doing this, but I should). And if you can, a greater “column width”
> for your hard line breaks would be nice, too. I checked in Emacs
> where I’m happy with the column width and it is indeed wider
> than what you are doing.

I'm always happy to reply to on-content comments:-P

Executive summaries are good, and I use them on occasion, but
they are not the only way to save time.

That message was tuned for speed-reading (in the most primitive
form of this technique, you could read the first sentence of each
paragraph and would reach the core paragraphs before you could
say "executive summary"). I usually indent/highlight the core
paragraphs for emphasis - missed that this time, sorry.

Line lengths also have at least two mutually opposed communities:
emacs-type users tend to ignore lines as a means of formatting,
focusing on paragraphs and characters; vim-style users tend to use
all of characters, lines, and paragraphs.

In the case of email, that conflict is resolved by RFC-5322:

    2.1.1.  Line Length Limits

   There are two limits that this specification places on the number
   of characters in a line.  Each line of characters MUST be no more
   than 998 characters, and SHOULD be no more than 78 characters,
   excluding the CRLF.

    .. explanation of agent limitations ..

So you are free to use longer lines, but you should be aware
that some agents might mess them up. If I restrict myself to
shorter lines, compliant agents must not mess them up.

I don't mind your suggestions, as others have probably been
thinking the same, but it helps to be aware that the styles each
of us is most familiar with are not the only ones in use. For
instance, I can quickly scan short-paragraph sequences, while
overlong lines slow me down.

There are always multiple backgrounds, so I have to put up
with all those folks who don't know what a line break is for!-)

Since the interaction of paragraph-break and line-break agents
tends to lead to mis-formatted quotes in reply chains, I often
try to reformat quotes, but I can't keep paragraph-break agents
from messing them up anyway.

Having answered your concerns, might I add one of my
own, not addressed to anyone in particular? I can deal with
misformatting, overquoting, quotes not separated from
inline replies (that one is hard, though). But I do sometimes
wish that people would spend as much time reading and
thinking as I spend on trying to present my thoughts.

Hair-trigger and off-topic replies not only derail email
threads, they water down content/noise density. I'd rather
spend a few minutes reading a well-thought-out message
than wading through a thread of half a dozen bite-sized
quick reactions and retractions. In my mind, that is email's
killer advantage over twitter, after all.

But I realize that my opinion is just one among many;-)


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