Perl 6 - the future is here, just unevenly distributed

IRC log for #perl6book, 2011-05-14

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Time Nick Message
13:25 sjn joined #perl6book
14:42 sjn moritz: ping
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16:16 moritz sjn: pong
16:16 sjn o/
16:17 * sjn and krunen have played a little around with an outline
16:17 sjn and tried to figure out what needs to be in place to make a perl6 book with aspects
16:18 sjn moritz: you up for spending a moment on this? I'd like a quick sanity-check :)
16:19 moritz sjn: yes, though my tuits are non-continuous due to $daughter
16:20 sjn ook :)
16:21 sjn moritz: here's where we've jotted down a couple of our (unstructured) notes...
16:22 sjn https://github.com/sjn/book/tree/outline-rework
16:22 sjn where perhaps https://github.com/sjn/book/blob/outline-rework/outline-goals.pod is the most useful one
16:24 * moritz takes a look
16:24 sjn the question I'm trying to answer with those, is "what qualities of a text do I have to be inflexible about in order to be flexible about how the content is told?"
16:25 sjn so, my hypothesis is to try to decide an outline that both covers the needs of a reference and the needs of an introductory book
16:26 sjn and then stick to that, while "fleshing out" the narrative and specifics according to what's needed or practical
16:27 sjn now, you should know that this is very much an experiment that I'm proposing here. :)
16:28 sjn trying to figure out a good way to allow for those nice and juicy aspects, while still keeping the writing task manageable
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16:29 moritz can some parts of the outline be simply missing in one of the aspects of the book?
16:30 moritz for example for the current intended audience of the book, I wouldn't want to write about "Chapter 1.2 - What is a program?" or "Chapter 1.4 - Breaking a big problem into smaller problems"
16:30 p6eval joined #perl6book
16:30 sjn moritz: that's one of the points that krunen and I have talked the most about
16:31 sjn his view is that there's value in removing some sections/chapters, and consequently renumbering the superceeding chapters
16:31 sjn I disagree with him
16:33 sjn I think it's worth keeping the sequence intact
16:33 * moritz is pretty sure he agrees with krunen
16:33 moritz so will you have empty chapters in some aspectsß
16:33 moritz s/ß/?/
16:33 sjn especially for the situations where there are several readers that try to keep a equivalnet pace of progression
16:33 sjn (e.g. in a classroom)
16:34 sjn I'm proposing "super-short" chapters
16:34 sjn just mentioning the absolute minimum, so the reader can decide if they want to switch to an aspect with more information
16:34 moritz how does that look like, for a printed book?
16:35 sjn and still be able to do the rigth thing when the teacher says "no, look at the first task in chapter 12"
16:35 sjn moritz: probably (in the index) like this:
16:36 sjn chapter 1 (intro)...... 1
16:36 sjn chapter 2 (more stuf).. 1
16:36 sjn chapter 3 (even moar).. 1
16:36 sjn etc.
16:36 sjn until there's actual content
16:37 moritz I think the main impedance mismatch between your and my vision is that I never thought of "Using Perl 6" to be used in a class room
16:37 sjn yep
16:37 moritz and it's not the vision i cater for, because it's too long in the future that there will be any Perl 6 classes
16:37 sjn that's why I think it's especially interesting to try make this work :)
16:38 sjn a reference is still needed
16:38 moritz but that's why I'm not keen on compromises that make it easier to use in the class room (ie same chapter numbers for same things among different aspects)
16:38 sjn well, that compromise is a rather small one for you :)
16:39 * moritz doesn't feel that way
16:39 sjn and it opens up quite a few interesting options later
16:39 sjn atm, we're basically talking about what sequence of events to write about
16:40 sjn now, with any book, it helps to choose a sequence where you can build on previous events in that sequence
16:40 sjn that's true for any linear book
16:41 sjn I'm proposing to make that sequiens in that linear story into something "special" that can be reused in several situations
16:41 sjn sequence*
16:41 sjn "sequence" as in "outline"
16:42 sjn now, to actually make this work, I thinbk it's _very_ important that the outline doesn't say _too_ much about the content
16:42 sjn just maybe a few keywords about what one can expect to learn there
16:43 sjn very general, and high-level
16:44 sjn it's like deciding up front the names of multi's that should be available in a module
16:44 sjn and then let different people start writing those multi's
16:45 sjn ...with a little guidance from a narrative ("we expect the multi to return $foo")
16:46 sjn ...and leaving the rest up to the writers to flesh out.
16:46 sjn does this make sense?
16:47 moritz yes, but it doesn't change my opinion about the compromises
16:48 sjn :-/
16:49 sjn would you mind telling me a bit about what you're thinking?
16:49 moritz writing a book is a lot of work
16:49 moritz and I don't know if we ever get further than a single aspect
16:49 moritz or maybe two
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16:50 sjn_ <- server reboot, sjn's logging off
16:50 moritz so I don't want to make comprises on the first one we want to print
16:50 moritz just for the possibility of integration with future aspects
16:51 sjn_ well, a big point for me is that I'd like to make it easier to involve new people in the writing process
16:51 moritz or put another way, I don't believe strongly enough in the multiple aspects to accept a drag down for the first aspect
16:51 sjn_ so there's that
16:51 sjn_ also, I'm fully aware that adding aspects later is possible
16:52 sjn_ but my guess is that it might require a lot of rewriting
16:53 sjn_ and my guess is that over time, (as people find the text useful, and perhaps make use of it in new circumstances) there rewriting my become much more costly
16:53 sjn_ especially when we're starting to handle overlapping aspects
16:54 sjn_ so for me, deciding a broad-but-shallow outline is a way of reducing the amount of later work
16:54 sjn_ maybe it's a bad strategy (premature optimization)
16:55 sjn_ but together with that, I know the immense value a good narrative has for any book
16:55 moritz not bad, just not my approach at doing things
16:55 sjn_ even a reference
16:55 moritz my approach is more bottom-up
16:55 sjn_ yep
16:56 sjn_ and I'm striving for a top-down approach
16:56 sjn_ which makes this whole thing especially useful :)
16:56 sjn_ s/thing/discussion/
16:58 sjn_ moritz: do you have any suggestions of how we can make this work?
16:58 moritz sjn_: sorry, have to take care of my little daughter, will be back in an hour or so
16:59 sjn_ ook, I'll hang around here :)
17:02 sjn left #perl6book
17:14 sjn_ is now known as sjn
17:31 * moritz back
17:31 moritz one option is to drive up6 to the point where it can be printed
17:32 moritz and then refactor it enough to allow other aspects
17:33 moritz another is to fork the project (we can still interchange contributions between the forks)
17:34 moritz a second mismatch is that the our current approach is example driven
17:34 moritz and your proposal is outline driven
17:35 moritz (we do care about structure, but finding really good examples is so hard that we compromise with the outline a bit
17:38 dalek book/first-example-more-robust: e9930d3 | moritz++ | src/basics.pod:
17:38 dalek book/first-example-more-robust: [basics] fix duplicate invocant explanation found by PerlJam++
17:38 dalek book/first-example-more-robust: review: https://github.com/perl6/book/commit/e9930d3a89
17:38 dalek book: 0281365 | moritz++ | src/basics.pod:
17:38 dalek book: [basics] made first example more robust wrt whitespace. Text still needs updating
17:38 dalek book: review: https://github.com/perl6/book/commit/0281365b94
17:38 dalek book: 346ed6a | moritz++ | src/basics.pod:
17:38 dalek book: [basics] start to updated description of the new first example
17:38 dalek book: review: https://github.com/perl6/book/commit/346ed6a170
17:38 dalek book: e83af18 | moritz++ | src/basics.pod:
17:38 dalek book: [basics] further wording changes after the s/split/words/ refactor
17:38 dalek book: review: https://github.com/perl6/book/commit/e83af18ca2
17:38 dalek book: e9930d3 | moritz++ | src/basics.pod:
17:38 dalek book: [basics] fix duplicate invocant explanation found by PerlJam++
17:39 dalek book: review: https://github.com/perl6/book/commit/e9930d3a89
17:39 dalek book: 3d702f6 | moritz++ | src/basics.pod:
17:39 dalek book: Merge branch 'first-example-more-robust'
17:39 dalek book: review: https://github.com/perl6/book/commit/3d702f6bf9
17:47 * sjn is back
17:47 sjn moritz: my porposal being outline-driven is only partly true
17:48 sjn krunen and I spent some time asking questions on "what makes a good example" and "what makes a good task"
17:49 sjn and an important point we found, was to make sure that the examples and tasks in the text were part of a larger, and continuously _useful_ story
17:50 sjn that idea we talked about was that the "story" started with the very basic task of creating a tool for asking questions and getting answers
17:51 sjn our "story" here (as far as we got) was about different ways to extend that tool into something bigger and more useful
17:51 sjn e.g. storing the answers for later review
17:51 sjn e.g. giving grades to the answers as the review
17:52 sjn e.g. trending the review, so one can get an idea about retention/results
17:52 sjn ultimately, our idea was that the student made a tool for doing online exams
17:53 sjn with the option of using question databases, central storage, or maybe even asking the student to formulate good questions herself
17:54 sjn plenty of options there, both to get creative, and to cover all kinds of useful ideas within the programming language
17:55 sjn (including related topics, like revision control, cooperation, source code clarity, etc.)
17:56 moritz it's a nice theme
17:56 moritz ... and far away from what we have done so far
17:57 * sjn agrees it's a nice theme
17:58 sjn but my point is that the examples _are_ the story
17:58 sjn or at least _part_ of the story
17:59 sjn so "example driven" is in essence the same as "outline driven", it's really about the story
17:59 sjn well
17:59 sjn maybe not
17:59 sjn you can make examples that don't convey a larger story
17:59 sjn and in a reference, that's perfectly fair
18:00 sjn I still think a book becomes better if you make the reader ask "oh no, what'll happen next?" now and then :)
18:00 sjn burt to do that, you actually need a story to tell
18:01 sjn but*
18:34 sjn so the real question here is if the UP6 reference text would become better if it's examples were part of a bigger story
18:34 * sjn is thinking "maybe not for the minimal examples"
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