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Mathematica Player Pro!

  • To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
  • Subject: [mg87593] Mathematica Player Pro!
  • From: "David Park" <djmpark at comcast.net>
  • Date: Mon, 14 Apr 2008 05:41:47 -0400 (EDT)

I don't know if this falls within the purview of MathGroup because it has to 
do with the Mathematica business model, but it also is vitally important to 
how Mathematica is used and its range and scope.

Anybody who knows me knows that I am a tremendous enthusiast for 
Mathematica. I believe it is a truly revolutionary new medium and even in 
twenty years the technical community has not come fully to grips with it.

Mathematica Player Pro is as great an advance as Version 6 is, perhaps even 
greater! You can write a notebook in the normal manner and ANYONE who has 
Player Pro can read it and get all the interactivity.  And anyone who has 
commercial packages can distribute free Player Pro versions so that anyone 
can also read and interact with any notebooks written with the package. This 
is absolutely fabulous. (And thanks to David Reiss for reminding me of the 
requirement for making packages work in Player Pro. Encode them.)

There is only one problem: 'ANYONE who has Player Pro' is still not very 
many people. WRI is allowing Premier subscribers to give away two free 
copies. But why not go all the way and provide free copies of Player Pro to 
everyone? (And junk Player and all its little restrictions and 
convolutions.) Why not go even further and try to convince Dell and Apple, 
and any other OEM, to sell the computers with Mathematica Player Pro 
preloaded, just as they now come preloaded with Acrobat Reader?

Huge numbers of people buy the Adobe Acrobat software because they know for 
a certainty that absolutely everybody can read the documents. Everything 
from IRS tax forms, restaurant menus to scientific papers on quantum gravity 
are available as pdf files.

I have long believed that all scientific papers and technical reports should 
be written as Mathematica notebooks. But, in practice, this is very little 
done. Rather I think that most users use Mathematica as a super calculator 
or programming language and then export some of the results, or copy out by 
hand, to the actual paper or report that is either written in Word or as a 
Postscript file using Latex, and then often converting to pdf. The main 
reason they do this is because they know very well that most people can't 
read Mathematica notebooks.

A static printed scientific document, or a pdf document, is to a Mathematica 
notebook as an ox cart is to a Lear jet. And that vastly understates it. 
Active Mathematica notebooks, written in the style of a research paper or 
textbook have huge advantages. One, of many, of these advantages is that 
they are largely self-proofing. When active definitions are used to carry 
out derivations and make graphics and dynamic displays there is a tremendous 
amount of cross-checking that goes on. When I mentioned this to a scientist 
friend he perked up - but only for a moment.

I think some time ago I read that Mathematica notebooks would be accepted as 
documents on the physics and mathematical arXives. But I have never seem one 
there and if any exist they are vanishingly few. Everything is Postscript or 
pdf. Mathematica notebooks would be far superior except for the available 
readership.

Providing Mathematica Player Pro free to everyone would unleash a torrent of 
Mathematica use that would eclipse its present reach. More people would 
write and distribute Mathematica notebooks because they would know that 
everybody could read them. More people would read them (and how could they 
help but be impressed!) and decide they wanted to write notebooks also. It 
would be the second revolution. I believe it is by far the superior business 
model. I just cross my fingers and hope the folks at WRI will come to the 
same conclusion.

-- 
David Park
djmpark at comcast.net
http://home.comcast.net/~djmpark/




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