Tuesday, May 07, 2013

in medias res: $\LaTeX \neq \text{math}$

the tricky thing about $\LaTeX$ (and about using computers in general) is that one can easily be deluded into believing that one is doing actual "work."

it's probably due the fact that we can compile our code and get the results right away. the typesetting, moreover, is prettier than i could ever write by hand: instantaneous gratification!

be warned, though: don't ever mistake this for real work.

i think it a warning sign to think and $\LaTeX$ at the same time. in an ideal situation, all the details are written up by hand and the computer is used merely to convert the information into a digital and more easily accessible format.
it's not that multi-tasking is inherently error-prone ..

.. though there have been enough studies to show that, statistically, this is the case ..

.. but by switching from one to the other, you easily get distracted. you can easily lose the big picture. perhaps you can still keep track of what you are doing, but it's noticeably harder to keep track of whether the changes you make are actually relevant to the task at hand.

i'll just change this, which means i have to go back and change that .. and now that i think about it, why did i introduce this definition? i'll just change it to ..

if you only knew the number of times that i meant to type up half a second, but only got to a single lemma ..!
i constantly have to remind myself: a computer is just a tool; it cannot actually think. it is we who do the thinking and the planning, it is we who are responsible for our time, and how much we spend on various tasks.

typesetting is easy, especially after a bit of practice, but don't ever mistake it for real math.

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