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Re: Mathematica notebooks the best method for technical

  • To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
  • Subject: [mg87106] Re: Mathematica notebooks the best method for technical
  • From: Mariano Suárez-Alvarez <mariano.suarezalvarez at gmail.com>
  • Date: Tue, 1 Apr 2008 03:20:21 -0500 (EST)
  • References: <fsd6lf$9fn$1@smc.vnet.net> <fsg6t7$jdd$1@smc.vnet.net>

On Mar 28, 5:42 am, AES <sieg... at stanford.edu> wrote:
> In article <fsg6t7$jd... at smc.vnet.net>,
>  "David Park" <djmp... at comcast.net> wrote:
>
> > Mathematica notebooks are the best method there is for
> > technical communications
>
> Would this were true.  It's not.
>
> Making Mathematica notebooks become the primary method for both
> preparing *and communicating* technical communications (broadly
> interpreted to include teaching, writing, presentations, and
> publications) in both the academic and professional worlds might be a
> laudable goal, and a number of people (David Park very much included)
> have put sincere and laudable efforts into trying to make it be the case.
>
> Sorry, it's _not_ going to happen.
>
> Wolfram is partly to blame for this -- very much including the currently
> ongoing version 6 documentation disaster.
>
> But there are also very major and fundamental reasons why this goal very
> possibly should not happen, or should not be attempted, or simply could
> never happen in any case.
>
> To focus on just one aspect of this topic (out of many), I would point
> out that major professional societies have (since Isaaac Newton's time!)
> carried the burden of developing two of the major worldwide channels of
> technical and scientific communications, namely scientific and technical
> journals (and archives), and scientific and technical meetings
>
> And, these societies are struggling to adapt, and in many ways
> successfully adapting, today to the Internet, electronic technologies,
> "open access", and other emerging complexities of information
> transmission and communication.  It's an expensive and
> resource-consuming struggle
>
> The primary "communication methods" or formats for user input of
> technical material  to essentially all such journals and meetings today
> -- "user input" being of course the primary source for all such material
> -- are TeX (or LaTeX), PDF, and (unfortunately, but it's the reality) MS
> Word.
>
> I've been heavily involved with a couple of these societies, and a close
> observer at least, if not a major contributor, to the major and
> stressful evolution of professional society publication and meeting
> activities and methods in recent years.  I've also been a heavy personal
> user of Mathematica since I heard Steven Wolfram introduce version 1 to
> an overflowing auditorium at my university several decades ago.
>
> I can only say that I would be a vehement opponent of any proposal
> within these societies to divert resources to an effort to add
> Mathematica notebooks to the format list above.
>
> [And, given the current situation, I'd be a vehement opponent of any
> efforts within my university to spend university resources on making
> Mathematica a *preferred* and heavily university-supported computational
> and communications technology within my university.]

Indeed. I would not be able to describe such an effort
with any other term apart from misguided. Essentially
proprietary formats cannot possibly be considered as a
candidate for general scientific communication. From
the simple fact that Mathematica, say, is absurdly expensive
for most of the world, to rather more complicated issues
(for example, one can never tell when the whimsical ires
of whatever be the superpower of the day, any day, may decide
to forbid selling, say, Mathematica to country X in order
to `fight Y' for whatever value X has at the time---terrorists,
peadophiles, and so on.), to so many other issues...

It simply cannot withstand any analysis.

-- m


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