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RE: [Axiom-developer] about Expression Integer

From: Bill Page
Subject: RE: [Axiom-developer] about Expression Integer
Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2006 08:36:01 -0500

On February 20, 2006 4:16 PM Doug Stewart wrote:
> <snip>
> Wow!!!  I have been watching and learning Axiom for the last 
> two months, and this thread has really help me.

I am glad that this dialogue was helpful to you. :)

> What I have found is that I can pick up Axiom in a simple way
> quite quickly but then I hit a wall that I could not seem to
> get past.

I think your experience is common among new users of Axiom.

> This thread has brought to light what the wall is and has 
> help me muchly.

What is this "wall"? Could you explain it in your own words?

> Could someone in the know take some material from this thread 
> and use it in the manual?

This comment deserves the reaction that you will find in
almost all open source projects: *You* are now the person
"in the know" about what potential Axiom users like you don't
know. So *you* are the best person to extract and reformat
the material from this thread that *you* think would be of
some benefit to new users.

The people who are working up close with the internals of
Axiom often do not appreciate what it is that the new people
don't understand. As a result, the documentation that they
might find time to write is often focused on the wrong issues.
And very often these people are not particularly good at writing
technical prose. Usually these people will interpret suggestions
such as yours in a rather negative manner: You are suggesting
even more work for them and they are already very busy!

And ... we have this wonder tool called a "wiki" that allows
everyone - anyone anywhere in the world - to contribute new
documentation and to update web pages online, in real time.
The hope is that sooner or later the seeds of email exchanges
such as these will fall on some intellectually fertile and
motivated individual who is willing to contribute to the Axiom
project by writing documentation, users' guides and tutorials.
A lot of the content already on the Axiom Wiki

originated for such emails.

The Axiom Wiki makes it possible for almost anyone to create
documentation. It is easy to create a new page, edit the
contents of exiting pages, give online examples of Axiom
calculations, and even directly edit over-the-web, the contents
of the Axiom source distribution which are written as literate
programming documents.

Almost all open source projects are starving for people with
writing talents and or even people who may not be such good
writers but who do have sufficient motivation to at least make
some kind of contribution. Of the potentially millions of people
around the world who might eventually visit the open source
project web site, there is always the hope that a few of these
people might step forward to help.

> I know that just reading this has opened my eyes.

Reading and replying to email in a long and detailed dialogue
is one thing (quite easy really), but writing good documentation
is another. In fact, in the three year history of the Axiom
open source project we have generated a huge searchable on-line
resource of this sort of dialogue in the axiom-developer archive:

It is just waiting to be mined by someone devoted to the task
of making more and better documentation available to other Axiom

The open source movement has been called a "gift culture", i.e.
one where one's social standing is at least in part determined
by what one offers freely to others. This is in contrast to
some other forms of cooperation between individuals such as
embodied in commercial proprietary software, where one expects
to get paid for a product or for services rendered.

I think one gift that a lot of us working on Axiom would hope
to receive some day is the contributions of new people who are
willing and able to work on the Axiom documentation.

Bill Page.

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