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Will your tooling let me go offline?

By Christopher Allan Webber on Fri 15 July 2016

I have been a happy man ever since January 1, 1990, when I no longer had an email address. I'd used email since about 1975, and it seems to me that 15 years of email is plenty for one lifetime.

Email is a wonderful thing for people whose role in life is to be on top of things. But not for me; my role is to be on the bottom of things. What I do takes long hours of studying and uninterruptible concentration. I try to learn certain areas of computer science exhaustively; then I try to digest that knowledge into a form that is accessible to people who don't have time for such study.

-- Donald Knuth on not reading email

Finally working again on tasks where I can "go offline" for periods of time. For a while I've been working on things where all the documentation I needed was "live" on the web, and it was too difficult to know what to pull down in advance. Now I'm going offline for periods to work on the thing I'm doing, and remembering just how much that helps. Sometimes I just can't focus with eternal streams of... everything.

I've found over time that I'm massively more productive working with software that has texinfo manuals or man pages, because I can "go offline" for a while and think through problems without the eternal distractnet affecting my ability to concentrate. (I know info manuals aren't great for non-emacs users. But for me, it really helps me focus. Plus, there's nothing like navigating through info manuals in emacs if you are an emacs user.)

I'm not claiming this is a full on accessibility issue, but given my really strong ADD, whether or not you provide good offline manuals affects how productive I am with your tooling.

This post was originally posted to the pumpiverse.