Glacial Erratics

Reading To Write

May 24, 2005

Phil Jones and I continue our conversation about purple numbers:    (PMY)

Essentially Chris casts the issue as a trade off between reading and writing.    (PMZ)

That's a pretty good characterization of what I was saying, and Phil makes some excellent points. His comments inspire a thought that illuminates a thing I forgot to emphasize in my earlier comments:    (PN0)

Yes, purple numbers do try to favor the reader and the act of reading, but not just for reading. They favor the reader so the reader may more easily do more writing. The whole point is for purple numbers and tools like it to be a generative force in the synthesis of new understandings.    (PN1)

Phil can write all he wants, and I can read all I want, but until I write down something that builds on what Phil says, while making chains of reference back through the many layers of context, there's been no synthesis, at least not any that is available outside the confines of my own mind.    (PN2)

So purple numbers aren't anything new: They are yet another in a long history of techniques that help people generate a little understanding with a little authority. The purple numbers twist is that you can point and grab with finer detail and in real time.    (PN3)

Update: Eugene joins in with some interesting additions.    (PN4)