Subject: Re: programmatic typesetting
Date: 1/22/2009 02:26:00 AM To: Sam Maurer, Timothy Paige Bcc:

Well, I guess the idea was that it wouldn't need any editing (or only to fix programmatic problems). That raises the question about what the true purpose of the project would be, but at least partially for me it's a statement about our communications -- that they can often be trivial, that the amount is huge, that the pieces are intermixed and formatted identically in my email client despite having such different characters or topics.

This distinction about how email has such a wide variety of topics and styles actually got me started thinking about another idea. What if I wrote a blog that was done in the format of emails that I sent to various people? So each post would be an email (like some of the more significant ones I send to you, or Tim O'Reilly, or friends at Microsoft, or whoever), complete with headers. I really like the idea of blog entries that have more metadata than just a title (who I chose to send to and CC and so on; the content of the email I'm responding to, etc.). Also, it harkens back to publishing an important person's letters as a journal of his life. (, say.)

On Jan 20, 2009, at 11:52 AM, Sam Maurer wrote:

Won't you need to edit the content quite a bit, as well as formatting it? I don't mean that you'll change what you wrote, but you'll need to pick which emails and plans to include, and in what order. Even if you want nearly everything, and you want it chronologically, maybe different themes of writing should be formatted differently, so that personal correspondence stands out from the ideas about information management or about liberal arts education. This part would take even longer than the formatting, right? But you could probably combine the editing with the difficult-to-automate parts of the typesetting, and do both at the same time without much added cost. (Also, this editing process may well be even more enjoyable than reading the finished product, since you'll have to engage with your old ideas in order to organize them.) As long as you do some simple pre-processing to separate entries clearly, format email headers properly, and so on, manual typesetting won't be that hard. You can just define some style sheets and then hit F-keys in BBEdit or InDesign as you go through the content.

I know that I'm subverting your intention to automate the process, but I think this would be a more pragmatic solution!