18.515 mouse, editing and composition

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2005 09:41:47 +0000

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 18, No. 515.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

   [1] From: lachance_at_origin.chass.utoronto.ca (Francois (57)
         Subject: Mouse Cursor Pointer Wrapping

   [2] From: Patrick T Rourke <ptrourke_at_methymna.com> (21)
         Subject: Re: computing and composition theory

         Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2005 09:31:52 +0000
         From: lachance_at_origin.chass.utoronto.ca (Francois Lachance)
         Subject: Mouse Cursor Pointer Wrapping


There has been a recent discussion on the Text Encoding Initiative
discussion list about the merits of Emacs. In one of the postings there
someone made reference to a report of observations. Part of that may merit
the attention of subscribers to Humanist.

Richard Wareham has an interesting piece housed at OSNews about his
practical experience in introducing adult learners to computers. Worth
reading just to consider the role of the mouse:

The mouse was avoided initially. The command line is one-dimensional with
a single point of concentration: the cursor. The vertical axis of the
screen is always time and provides the newbie with a constant reminder of
what they did along with a record to show their instructor when they have
problems. Introducing a mouse causes the vertical axis to be both time and
space depending on the nature of the program running. Also the users must
get used to using a mouse, not easy for a new user let me assure you.

Richard Wareham
The Command Line - The Best Newbie Interface?


True as the mouse hurdle may be, something discomfits me in the
description or rather unproblematized ascription of either time or space
to any axis in the visual display. I recall certain augmented typwriters
that allowed users to input before the keys hit the paper (and to
backspace over mistakes before the keys hit the paper). The viewing field
did not permit multiple lines. The input was displayed as one continuous
line. The recollection of those machines makes me wonder about word
wrapping -- the automatic movement of the cursor to the next line of the
visual display. In the language of the typewriter patten, a line feed
followed by a carriage return. Visually a line Break being also a simple
line feed and not necessarily a line feed followed by carriage return. How
a line break initiated by a keyboard command ["return"] behaves in the
computer world of the euro languages is influenced by the model of left
justified text. And word wrap is not the same as automating the insertion
of EOLs (see for example wrapmargin setting in vi).

I think Richard Wareham's essay points towards not so much mastering the
mouse or the arrows on the keypad. It suggests perhaps that the first
step is recognizing the curosr as a point of power. And distinguishing the
cursor from a pointer is a crucial step in mastering mouse movements. It
further suggests that an interface could be developed (and perhaps has
been by creators of adaptive technology) where the pointer contolled from
the keyboard in ways similar to expanding the point of power through set
mark and variations thereof which usually provide feedback to the user via
reverse video or its GUI equivalent, highlighted text.

Do any of the subscribers to Humanist have any thoughts about the history
of line breaking/word wrapping and what linkages there may be between that
history and the history of how mouse behaviour came to map:

          selecting (via a pointer) onto double click, roll, click
          simply moving a cursor to a pointer position onto roll, click

Something is eluding me. It may be in the shape or nature of a prompt
/homes/lachance %

Francois Lachance, Scholar-at-large http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~lachance

A calendar is like a map. And just as maps have insets, calendars in the
21st century might have 'moments' expressed in flat local time fanning out
into "great circles" expressed in earth revolution time.

         Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2005 09:34:07 +0000
         From: Patrick T Rourke <ptrourke_at_methymna.com>
         Subject: Re: computing and composition theory

I'm afraid that Word processors were always intended to be display editors,
not text editors. Open up an old WordPerfect 5 file in your favorite hex
editor. The markup is not human readable. Word processors were designed to
create good-looking documents on paper, not on the screen.

If you want comprehensible markup, you need to use a professional tool like
FrameMaker. For your purposes, though, I'd recommend that students type
everything in TextEdit, Notepad, or an email program. Besides, when one is
learning composition, it is helpful to be deprived of the typographical
niceties that distract us from more a rigorous prose style, such as italics
and bold text and pagination. (I mention email because most email clients
have a spell-checker.)

You might want to try HTMLTidy for cleaning up Microsoft's HTML output;
it's integrated in many text editors, including HTML-Kit for Windows. It
won't get everything, but it will clean things somewhat. There's also a
tool in many versions of Word that will output somewhat cleaner HTML.

The missing line break problem sounds like a cross-platform issue.

On Jan 19, 2005, at 5:14 PM, Willard McCarty wrote:

> >(2) does anyone know about publications or resources on the
> >migration of word processors toward text display and away from,
> >well, word processing?
Received on Sat Jan 22 2005 - 04:48:23 EST

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