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    I'm curious about people's thoughts on the question Writing papers in pre-LaTeX era?. This question has a couple of votes to close, and a couple of people flagged it, but no one has actually written a negative comment.

    I'll admit, I had a frisson of grump when I first saw it, (I think my first thought was "Have you never read a pre-90's LNM?"), but on some level it's a reasonable question of historical interest, and has attracted some decent answers. I wouldn't be heart-broken or surprised to see it closed by other users, but probably wouldn't vote to do so myself. What do other people think?


    It didn't interest me, and I feel worried about any mathematician who has never read a paper of that era. But I couldn't see that anything was wrong with it as a question; we seem to allow questions about how mathematics is done, and this one was more concrete than most.


    Well, there's no actual evidence that the original poster is a professional mathematician. There's no sign of their real identity in their profile. Also, remember that papers from actual journals in that period were professionally typeset and thus, if anything, look nicer than LaTeX. You only see the handwritten symbols in things like LNM or Asterisque that were produced "camera-ready" by mathematicians themselves (well, often actually by their support staff, but not professional typesetters).


    Since you're asking, I think it's a great question and I am glad that nobody closed it before Felipe, Deane et al. could provide their answers.


    I think the question was definitely appropriate and well posed. Whether it is interesting is certainly debatable, but that's never been a good reason to close. Mathematical typesetting has a rich and interesting history. I think I have been lucky to have met some mathematicians who have never used TeX or LaTeX as well as math dept secretaries who used to be technical typists. I don't think these first-hand witnesses hang out here, but it is of interest to spread knowledge of the old ways before they completely disappear.

    The question seems fine -- it has a certain concreteness and specificity to it which makes it much more attractive to me than many other soft questions we have seen on the site. The remarks about people who have not read pre-90's papers seem a little weird to me. Someone who has read old LNM's, say, seems more likely to ask the question: the final product is so different from what they're used to looking at that it's natural to wonder exactly how it was produced and, in particular, how involved the paper's author was in the typesetting / production.
    • CommentAuthorKevin Lin
    • CommentTimeApr 1st 2010

    I am in complete agreement with fgdorais.


    Pete- I think you're falling a little bit into the fallacy of seeing the good question that could have been asked rather than the question that was. The questioner certainly didn't indicate any particular aspect of older papers that they were curious about (which would have made me like the question a lot more), just what I read as a sort of incredulity that they could have existed. Of course, that just brings us back to the fact that one can read a lot of different things into poorly-written text on the internet.

    • CommentAuthorMariano
    • CommentTimeApr 1st 2010

    s/on the internet//