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Re: [olpc-software] AbiWord, HIG



Hi Jim --

True enough, but there's an interesting tradeoff here. There was a much smaller literature in the past and it was better vetted, so even if it was harder to get to, there was less to get to (CACM, AFIPS, a trip to the Stanford loose paper file and the MIT tech notes would cover a lot of ground). There was less to read and the percentage of worthwhile stuff was larger.

Even with the Internet (and with the pretty amazing wikipedia community) there is a lot of stuff to wade through, even for people who like to read (like me). I don't think the absolute size of the good stuff is all that large but it is masked by the mountain of stuff of intermediate or lower quality.

However, your point about search strategies is a very good one. E.g. when I was a young researcher one was thought to be an arrogant idiot if one was not up on what the Turing Award winners and other top people had done and were doing. No one cared if you disagreed, but it was outrageous not to know. I think the identity politics of today interferes with such simple search strategies -- a real pity given the riches that are online these days -- last week I was peeling through the RFCs for the Internet and marveling at how well those guys organized themselves and their discussions (a real tribute to Vint and Jon especially). I wish the advanced programming language community did as well.

Cheers,

Alan


At 10:59 AM 3/16/2006, Jim Gettys wrote:
On Thu, 2006-03-16 at 07:57 -0800, Alan Kay wrote:


>
> In the middle ages anyone could be a scientist, they just had to get a
> pointy hat. The shame is that there was and is a literature. Let's be glad > that the youngsters who did the ARPAnet and Internet had the discernment to
> read that literature and ask others -- the Internet RFCs (which are online
> and quite beautiful) show how the "other youngsters" did things.
>

Let us not forget that before the web and the internet, getting one's
hands on such documents, or even finding that they exist, was a
difficult challenge in and of itself; one used to spend serious time in
libraries.  There are now many fewer excuses for not finding prior art
(though in some kid's views, including at the US Patent Office, prior
art starts in 1994. ;-(

Now the importance is shifting to teaching the kids how to use internet
search.  I once asked Raster why he wrote ESD (a pretty lame audio
server that is used on Linux), when there was a much better one (called
AF that friends of mine and I wrote in the early '90's) to start from
that could have been pretty trivially ported to Linux and improved from
there.

Raster's defense was: `I searched on "audio server" and "linux"' and
didn't find anything.  Of course AF was written on UNIX, and Raster
didn't think to try that query.  We even won the best paper award at
USENIX that year.

Sigh....
                        Regards,
                                - Jim

--
Jim Gettys
One Laptop Per Child



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