The Never-Ending Process

(historytoday.com)

18 points | by diodorus 12 days ago

1 comments

  • specialist 9 days ago
    Terrific, brief essay about two facets of our ongoing epistemological crisis.

    wrt Never ending revisions:

    > Every history book, even when it is dispatched to the printers, is a work in progress, ready to be revised.

    Someone at Pixar, Lasseter?, said something like: their movies are never done, the release that the public sees is just a "good enough" snapshot.

    Movies, books, songs, buildings, everything are perhaps better thought of as works in progress.

    I'm often powerfully reminded of Bruce Eckel's book "Thinking In Java". Written in public. Basically crowd sourced the editing. Eckel accepted so many revisions from his readers. The end result is fantastic. Even though the book was free to download, I bought 5 copies (4 as gifts).

    I really thought Eckel's strategy would become the norm. Especially for non-fiction. Doubly so for technical books.

    Today, Eckel would probably host the book on git. And accept PRs.

    Shouldn't every book have a public repo?

    Doing so would improve public discourse.

    David Graeber was recently front paged on HN. Usually someone notes Brad DeLong's criticisms of Debt. No paper is free of errors, much less a 500+ page book. IMHO, the bulk of DeLong's nitpicking would be mooted by creating PRs. This would liberate DeLong to focus on Graeber's thesis. If he so choose.

    --

    wrt Changing one's mind.

    I often repeat (about myself) "Strong opinions, loosely held." So brutish.

    Here's the OC's closing para:

    > Perhaps in 40 years’ time I, too, will have changed my mind about all the details I’m agonising over now. My future self might be wiser, more able to spot errors and infelicities of expression that I can’t identify at the moment. I hope so. Facts may not change, but historians do and, as we change, so does our understanding of the facts. It’s that which makes history not an inert study of the static past, but a never-ending process of discovery.

    So much better. Just lovely.