[TUHS] cat -v and other complaints

Kurt H Maier khm at sciops.net
Tue Sep 4 10:52:13 AEST 2018

On Mon, Sep 03, 2018 at 02:46:14PM -0700, Bakul Shah wrote:
> I’m still not clear on why you think acme is a bad citizen. If anything it
> makes its windows more accessible to other tools. Unlike emacs or vim
> or any IDE. What could acme have differently or what other editor is
> not a “bad citizen”.

Ok.  I apologize for expressing myself poorly.  I give up.

> Composability is implicitly the key point in “the Unix way” but typically
> editors are not very composable. Or composable in a different domain.
> Similarly GUI. Once you add a human in your composition, further
> composability falls apart! A human being the ultimate “do everything”
> kitchen sink:-)

I don't consider myself on an equal footing as the tools I use.  I don't
"add a human in my composition."  I compose.  This is a pretty
fundamental difference between me and software.

> The question is what can be done to improve composability beyond the
> “Unix way” or plan9 way.

I have about a million questions to answer first, and I suspect the
industry as a whole will collapse and re-form a few times before anyone
gets around to answering that one.

We haven't even fully developed composability in "the unix way" since
market forces seem to have frozen things in a sort of late-1980s amber.
I envy the future generation that rediscovers the core concept and
runs with it, but I doubt I'll be around then.  Information technology
is entering an ice age in which general-purpose computing is not
guaranteed to select for survival; the barrier to entry for
understanding systems has never been higher, there is a distinct and
global trend against it, and the cost of thirty years' abuse of Moore's
law is coming due.

Hunter Thompson's high-water mark comes to mind.  

I am grateful, for these reasons, for the efforts of people like TUHS
and Bitsavers, so that I can still find and use the tools that were made
back before people confused the simplistic for the simple, even if it
gets harder to make a living with them each passing year.


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