Plato's Academy of Mathematica: Soapbox warning!
- To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
- Subject: [mg22870] Plato's Academy of Mathematica: Soapbox warning!
- From: "Steven T. Hatton" <hattons at cpkwebser5.ncr.disa.mil>
- Date: Sun, 2 Apr 2000 15:33:39 -0400 (EDT)
- Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at wolfram.com
<SOAPBOX> I have been playing with Mathematica for several years. I have never had the time to really learn it. One of the reasons is that every time I sit down to use it, I end up spending hours trying to figure out why I can't get the pointer to stop being a hand in Linux (num-lock), or how to get the delete button to "delete next." And what the heck is Mod2? I find the help often not very helpful. It is difficult for me to locate what I am looking for because I don't know the exact way to formulate my search filter. Additionally neither the help nor the website supports a very good query engine. The editor is rather non-standard in how it interprets key strokes, e.g., "end" takes me to the end of the notebook, where as, convention would take me to the end of the current line. The "undo" option doesn't keep a buffer of previous changes. And yap, gripe, sniffle, and so forth. . . It is my understanding that Plato's Academy was the only place one could learn geometry. Over the door of the academy was the injunction "All who enter here must know geometry." The set of all sets which do not contain themselves, as it were! Mathematica seems a bit like this to me. In other words, in order to use Mathematica effectively, one must be initiated. In order be be initiated, one must be able to use Mathematica, at least somewhat, effectively. Don't get me wrong. I am not condemning Mathematica. I think it is the Gutenberg printing press of mathematics. On my job, I am faced with exactly the same problem of mapping users' information paradigms to obscure data representation. It is not easy, and I don't expect it is all that easy to get a bunch of propeller-heads who love to tinker with group theory in algebraic geometry to spend much time trying to figure out how to make an interface that is accessible to bone heads such as me. </SOAPBOX> NOTE: I have BCCed this to my coworkers because this issue hits home with our current project. Thank you for your indulgence, Steve