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Sunday, September 8, 2019

FIR on Technology # 3 - Markdown

Listening to a podcast from 2016 (cause that's how I roll) from FIR Podcast Network where Chip Griffin talks about something called Markdown.  The idea is, rather than mousing around and clicking buttons, or typing truly arcane HTML, one types their content -- and in appropriate spots, one adds a few characters as part of the text to create special format items, headers and bulleted lists and whatnot.  Sweet!

Being old enough that I still own a sliderule... I learned how to use most of this back in the day when we wrote actual letters, stuck them in envelopes with stamps on them, and gave them to some guy in a blue uniform.  I also learned formatting by creating newsletters that got printed on paper.  And I learned by using WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS.

I still prefer the idea of WP over MS Word.  Microsoft created Word kinda backwards in my humble opinion.  Spend an extended period making your document all pretty, create a bunch of formatting stuff and put in graphics and all that, and then if you have any time left, maybe do some actual writing.

WordPerfect was written for people who learned typing by typing, who learned to create content by creating content.  Once you'd written what you wanted to say, then you went back and added on any fancy formatting stuff and graphics, if needed.  If it wasn't needed, if you were one of us, well, then you didn't put it in.  Start by writing content.  You may well be able to stop there.

I have yet to use Markdown.  But what I admired about Markdown from Chip's description is, you can create a Markdown document without using a mouse -- another strength of WP.   A couple decades down the road, I can certainly flip back and forth from keyboard to mouse to keyboard to mouse with reasonable facility.  But if I want to get actual content created without wasting time, use the keyboard.  Because that's what it's for.  Straight-up keyboarding, once I've learned what is where, is much faster. And with muscle memory, as with typing itself, I honestly couldn't tell you what key combination I just used -- I think what I want to produce and my fingers respond.

So I look forward to doing a bit of fiddling with Markdown.  Sad to say, I've lost most of the WP muscle memory I had, though when I want to print something my hands still start toward the right keys to get WP to print.

In a larger sense, I still recommend Play Episodes in Order on podcasts.  It is especially educational where the podcast feed goes back a few years.  You don't just hear the current commentary about The Next Big Thing.  You hear what they said about it when it hadn't proven itself.  Investment guys back in 2010 saying Google isn't a good investment, and Facebook is a fad that'll soon be gone.

It's history. If you want to understand what is there, you should understand why it's there and how it got there, and what it replaced.

Here endeth the sermon.

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