Word vs. LaTeX and other meaningless comparisons

The so-called 'word-processor wars' are not about word-processors, they are about design philosophy

This is also not a Word vs. LaTeX piece. But I would like to unpack what seems to be a fundamental missunderstanding made by many of the pro-Word ‘Word vs. LaTeX’ folk. LaTeX is not a word-processor. I will say that again to aid retention: LaTeX is not a word-processor. Trying to compare LaTeX vs. Word is not even like trying to compare apples to oranges–at least those are both a type of fruit–it would be more like trying to compare a symphony orchestra to a kidney. Or something. I’m having trouble coming up with a good analogy since there is little analogy between Word and LaTex. The point of this post is to help increase awareness that the monolithic word-processor model is not the only model for document preparation, and it isn’t even a particularly good model for many modern needs. This highlights the real problem with the so called word-processing wars: the assumption that a monolithic word-processor is The One True Way of document preparation and the tendency to conclude that any tools that do not fit The One True Way are somehow less “efficient.”

Workflows vs. worldviews and other false dichotomies

Claiming a practical argument free of ideology is impossible. Don't do it.

I’ve recently been thinking more about workflows and tools for writing since migrating from Electrical and Computer Engineering where the LaTeX workflow was fairly ubiquitous to Engineering Education in which the ubiquitous workflow involves MS Word or similar. This is not going to be a LaTeX vs. MS Word piece. There are plenty of those out there, though this post was inspired by one in particular (with a bit of an inflammatory title) by Alex Bond who made a ostensibly pragmatic argument as to why he chose to stick with MS Word (for now).

Teaching Diversity in Tech

Thoughts on bringing attention to diversity and identity issues in STEM education

Recently while on vacation I found myself in a conversation with a friend about language and word use, specifically how certain words can elicit a strong emotional response in some people, and how that response is dependent not only on the word itself, but the context in which it is heard. This lead to thinking about the more imperfective scenario of environments in which subtle use of language can affect how welcome one feels. For example, the classroom.

Writing In Public: Finishing a MS Thesis paper is hard

Writing is hard. It's even harder when the finished product isn't something the author is passionate about.


Those of you who know me know that I’ve been ostensibly working on an Ph.D. MS degree for a very long time. Some might say too long. Others would say just the amount of time I needed to figure out where my passions lie and make appropriate mid-course corrections to my career trajectory. Now that I have made appropriate corrections I’m faced with finishing up a MS thesis paper and defending it in a couple of months so I can start a new chapter with a clear conscience (and the satisfaction of actually finishing something). Despite all the helpful advice to “just get it done, you’ll be so much happier!” I have found “just getting it done” to be incredibly challenging. Recently, Ennis suggested that I “write in public” as motivation.