I just installed the latest version of OpenOffice.org, version 3.0.0 Official Release, which on OS X no longer needs X11 to run, so it’s just like running any other native OS X office suite, except it’s free.
Anyway, I launched it and wrote a bit, thinking, “why do all word processors emulate paper?” and here’s what I wrote:
This is how it begins.
Words on fake paper because people need fake paper to understand word processors. Why are most documents that are never printed still 8.5 x 11 inches? That is antiquated. There should be no predefined shape. No form. Just the words and their meaning. Their meaning is in question, as well, of course. Is it the meaning the author intends or the meaning that the reader perceives? Does true communication between the two ever occur? Thousands upon thousands of words have already been written about these questions. Perhaps it was the wrong form to use, but there was none other. All we have ever had is the words.
How many of your thoughts are like that fake paper? How much of what you’re thinking today about whatever you’re thinking about is a familiar pattern? How much of it is an echo of a pattern you were taught? Probably most of it. If you have average intelligence or above average intelligence and average or above average education, then probably all of it.
Parents: don’t let your kids get advance degrees in literature or read too many books or they’ll end up writing things like this when they’re just stirring in idle thought…
Why do all word processors emulate paper? Because it’s a good visual metaphor.