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Re: Introduction and proposed contribution



Hello, Jason,
Firstly, I want to make sure I'm clear here, I sought neither to
disparage nor criticize Dr. Raman.  If anything I wrote implied as
much, I apologize unreservedly.  I have nothing but admiration for his
accomplishment in creating this wonderful accessible solution and did
not mean to offend with what I wrote.  Also, what I propose to write
is not a technical writing.  It is a tutorial.  The two are very
distinct styles of writing.  One seeks to create a reference resource,
the other seeks to instruct.  One focuses on an exhaustive treatment
of minutia, the other is only interested in how the user will
accomplish a task without going into how the software they are using
does what it does.  Technical writings and manuals are in abundance on
Emacspeak.  Non-technical introductory materials targeted at a
non-programmer or someone who is a superficial user are not.  If I am
in error, please let me know and I will gladly spread the news.  The
closest I was able to find was a "Gentle introduction to Emacspeak"
which was a nice document but the version I found was dated 2001 or
something like that and is targeted at people who are used to console
or command line interfaces which have not been in wide use in windows
for more than a decade.  Efficient accesibility has existed there
since at least 1998 and has steadily improved over the years.  We paid
dearly for it too.  It costs a thousand bucks or more to get a decent
screen reader.  And then, you have to pay for all the software it's
going to read to you.  I wanted to offer people who come from a
background of menu bars, toolbars and that sort of interface some
introductory material that helps them learn how to use Emacspeak.
There is currently a void there, you see because, like yourself, there
are lots of folks who haven't used Windows in a long long time and are
hence not in an ideal position to help people interested in migrating
away from it learn their way around in Emacs in a way that puts their
pre-existing pc knowledge to use.  Because of that, a lot of folks who
I've spoken to are daunted by Emacs and Emacspeak when they try to
learn it and wind up giving up and using something else not knowing
that they have turned their back on as productive a tool as they have.

I want something that the author, music lover, social network and Irc
chat lover as well as the student in anything from English to law can
use to learn how to use Emacspeak without feeling overwhelmed by all
the technical elements.  I want them to be able to open up a file in
Emacs and be able to do something productive like writing a simple
webpage in org-mode or write a text file within 5 minutes of when they
start and be curious and motivated enough by their accomplishment to
then be willing to dive into the more technical side of things which
are so well documented without feeling like it'll be a long time
before they can do anything effective.  That is all.

Best regardes,
Alex M

On 2/11/11, Jason White <jason@jasonjgw.net> wrote:
> Alex Midence <alex.midence@gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> I've noticed in my learning of Emacspeak that, while there are plenty
>> of reference materials, the number of up-to-date tutorial-style
>> documents geared towards a raw newbie are somewhat sparse and spread
>> out and are written in a way that someone coming from a strong Ms
>> Windows background would find rather laborious to follow, increasing
>> their learning curve unnecessarily.  This is probably because a lot of
>> it was written by people who have used Linux for longer than Windows
>> has been accessible (oh, what a battle that has been!) and, as is the
>> case with many a developer, are more comfortable writing code than
>> writing documents.
>
> Actually, T.V. Raman, the author of Emacspeak, is one of the most
> accomplished
> technical writers that I have encountered - he is adept at writing prose as
> well as code.
>
> I would suggest reading his papers describing Emacspeak before you embark on
> preparing a tutorial; this will give you a deeper understanding of the
> design
> principles of the Emacspeak user interface.
>> What I propose to do is to write a simple tutorial for newcomers to
>> Emacspeak geared towards people who are new to command line, Linux and
>> Emacs
>> as well.
>
> A fundamental question that I would suggest considering is this: what do
> such
> people really need to know before they can comfortably read Emacs
> documentation, manual pages, HOWTO documents and other sources?
>
> I have read claims in several places to the effect that it's harder for
> former
> MS-Windows users to learn a UNIX-like environment than it is for absolute
> beginners who have had no prior computing experience. Presumably, to the
> extent that this is the case, it is because MS-Windows users have to set
> aside
> their prior knowledge and habits in making the adjustment. I'm only
> speculating here; the last Microsoft product that I ever used was DOS 6 and
> I
> opted entirely out of Windows in favour of Linux at that time.
>
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