NVDT Totally Random – Type. Hit Return. Repeat As Necessary.

Or – Thanks for the whine, I’ll keep the change.

From time to time I build up a real head of steam over the whole “new fangled shit sucks” commentary. From music to art to the Gutenberg Block editor. The latter I am about to take in hand. Because good luck hanging on to yesterday. As Chad Stuart wrote, ” …that was yesterday, and yesterday’s gone.”

News Flash. Things change.

News Flash. Nothing is really new.

Want a classic example of block editing? Stonehenge. What do we give kids to build their spacial relations and motor skills? Building blocks.

Gutenberg Technology has a much wider scope and larger foothold in the web presentation community than just WP. GT is showing up everywhere inter-and-intranet content development takes place from the big shot corporate web publishing “partners” to do it yourself and “assisted” publishing sites for “authors”. The concept is everywhere, and isn’t new.

Take the most widely used presentation software for three generations. What is Power Point in its basic form but a block editor with some behind the curtains graphic and audio capabilities? Conceptually GT is the same thing, only slicker. Designed to take the old, simple but obviously still viable concept of chunking and paste-up to web content design. I’m not here to sell GT, but I would urge anyone complaining to research the purpose and impact of the product and its booming acceptance in the corporate world, or get left behind complaining about what is the next wave of content management and development. Look at it this way –

Before Power point…

After Power Point.

Believe it or not I produced presentations the old way. Doing that is a process essay on its own. So I don’t get the Gutenberg whining.

Type, hit return, repeat.

WTF is so hard to “get” about that? Every word, every sentence, every phrase, every paragraph we create is already a block. People who pay attention to their output grab those chunks and drag them around until the product equals the concept. Scrivener and every other dedicated script, screen and novel software are all based on visual feedback and the ability to drag, drop and rearrange content by scene, chapter, paragraph plus the ability to archive and recall those archived resources for reuse.

Well, there’s the learning curve, or I work like this, or… Like the GEICO commercial – 15 minutes could save you a world of time and hassle. Here’s one of those scenarios. My father-in-law (RIP) used an office type program from probably the 70s or early 80s, and all he ever used was the spreadsheet. He did his financial justifications in it, kept records in it, even had a template for mailing labels and writing letters inside of stretched cells -in a freaking spreadsheet! Sometime in the late 90s he got a “new” computer and asked me if I could transfer those templates into the new box. I said, “There’s a program in there for writing letters, with your choice of templates.” Nope. Then I had to break the news to him that he’d skipped a bunch of years of updates that might have brought those files forward but that option was way past its sell by date and he was going to have to adapt. He was one unhappy camper.

Look, our workflows will get interrupted, it’s the way we live. I was an on demand product specialist for a piece of software going back to 1988. It was my software of choice for music. Over time it morphed from Atari to Mac and PC to Mac only. It exists today as the Apple product Logic ProX .

When Apple bought it I didn’t move to a Mac or become my father-in-law. I had a deadline, blocks and tracks are blocks and tracks. I got an artist/industry comp on another product and went back to work. As my fictional hero Jackson says, “Listen, jam, take it where it needs to go. Spool it, print it, call a courier.”

From ’88 on I heard how Logic (Notator) was “too deep”. What?

If you don’t need all of it, don’t use it. Software isn’t judgemental. Type, hit return, repeat. Just like politics and traditional publishing. Same ol’ same ol’.

For all the block editing whiners out there I leave you with some visual blocks to play with.

Next time you want to whine about blocks you can help me do this…

With this

Or do this….

With this.

Published by

Phil Huston


14 thoughts on “NVDT Totally Random – Type. Hit Return. Repeat As Necessary.”

    1. The more open minded our approach and to apply interdisciplinary reasoning to a process gives age an advantage. Like the simple analogy of LEGOs. Oh, I want to build X. Oh, I used this in Power Point. Oh, I cut and pasted a High School newspaper or yearbook together. Oh, I made a quilt or a scrapbook or a brick path or a book or painted a room – I get this. We don’t really think in linear terms. Pure reaction is linear, but reason is modular. What can I put together to make sense out of X? Experience as interdisciplinary literacy.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Sometimes with technology you (royal version) need a twenty-something to get up to speed. Other times – like this one – you just need to get out of your own way.
    But I *really* would have loved to be a fly on the wall during that exchange with your father in law!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We had a few of those exchanges. He finally decided I wasn’t an idiot after 20 years when he was complaining about how he couldn’t keep line in his weedeater one afternoon and I showed him how to fix it. I never confessed that only recently had the hardware store geezer shown me the fix.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. So much sanity in the midst of block editing hysteria. I don’t personally like it myself but the challenge here is really my slow phone which makes dragging and dropping very clumsy. And if I’m going to type on my laptop I’m using microsoft word so it’s moot for me. I do final editing with the blocks. I find it makes inserting media or separaters very easy. I love separaters. Anyway. You’re right that the new is just a fancier version of old.

    Do you ever wonder who invented the wheel, the individual who put everything in motion? They get no credit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just don’t get the whining, particularly from people who produce suspect content. What diff does the interface really make? A blue line around a paragraph?
      Forget the phone. It can do a lot of things but getting along with my fingers isn’t one of them. Besides, you get an inch for the keyboard and two lines of text… I thought we got past 2 line displays in the 70s…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I figure the wheel person simply cut the end off the rolling log person’s idea. Put a short log between them and had an axle. Now… what was first, the hand drawn rickshaw or domesticated animals?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I have a riff where an American girl in England goes off about Stonehenge. What do they mean no one knows who built it? People have been on this island continuously ever since it was built, so it’s not like it just showed up overnight in farmer Brown’s back yard.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Blocks should be a logical overlay on top of the document paradigm, not the underlying editing framework. An image is a block. A table, chart or list, all blocks. All selectable, draggable, placeable. But they are blocks sitting on top of a document framework.
    Draggable paragraphs — Word, gDocs, OpenDocs all have this. Select, drag, drop. But they don’t force the individuality of paragraphs. There’s a continuum.
    Now, this contention is probably just due to wordpress’s failed implementation. Write two paragraph blocks. CTRL-A. Try and change their font, or bold or italic your selection. Can’t be done.

    Audio/video editing in the new-age? Continuums of media, arbitrarily selectable and movable. Sure, video frames “look” like blocks but they’re really just letters and words in a visual story.

    What’s next? WordPress treating characters as blocks? Pixels?


    1. There are a number of places where I agree. However. there are several places you are trapped by either your language or perception. Here –

      But they are blocks sitting on top of a document framework.

      No, they are blocks in a constrained space ie Photo Shop or a graphics program. “Document” as regards web pages, and you know this, is the product, not the compositing method. The constraints are an unformatted viewable area, not a document. Just like a paste up high school newspaper or a 4×8 sheet of plywood or the side of skyscraper. It is a canvas with a limited palette of tools waiting for you to bring content to it.

      But they don’t force the individuality of paragraphs. There’s a continuum.

      You use the word continuum twice, and it is exactly the wrong thought process for nonlinear or off line editing from audio to writing. That thought process or workflow is not continuous. With blocks you may access multiples and move them freely, but each box’s composition is unique and Gutenberg was designed to be that way for the eye candy (Power Point) and ease of use crowd. Blocks nor the classic editor were designed to write one’s next thesis or the great American novel. Do that in a program designed for that purpose.

      Your comment on AV editing would require you to get a bodyguard to get out of a room full of those people. Off-line and nonlinear editing is far from a continuum of visuals or sound. The end result, yes. The process, no.

      You’re right, Gutenberg is a piece of shit for writing anything of length or substance should you expect to do more than the usual highlight, drop cap or BIU on short selections. But again, that is not the intent or intended use of the product. For what it does and is for (simplified web-based Power Point) it rocks. It wasn’t built for artists or content development, we have our own tools for that. It was built for assembly and deployment of content assets. Are you going to produce the company’s non-binary is just all right with us video. No. You’re going to bring it to Blocks with some other pretty blocks full of flowery legal dept proofed trendspeak and put it in a pretty frame with the right fonts in the right blocks and deliver it. Don’t ask me how I know that.

      I can get by with WP letting me change my mind 25 times on something I pasted in, just like I was editing for real. Am I going to take the time to make it look like a pull from The New Yorker? Fuck no. But I could, one block at a time, just like they do!

      I say we all adopt drop caps with lots of pull quotes and pictures of cute animals.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I used to do a load of DTP using things like PageMaker and QuarkXpress. Those two used blocks, but the textual blocks were continuums — flowing from text container to container. No where in those did paragraphs become their own entity that needed to be managed and singularly address. Of course, under the covers, they could be individual, fully formattable (just like Word/GDocs) structures, but you couldn’t tell that from the UI. That’s the problem with wp’s implementation — they broke the seamless selection and cursor movement.

        And the whole AV editor thing? Stroke, delete/copy/move/paste. That’s the continuum I’m talking about. A singular stream of data that could be slice & diced, at will, with no concept of block-divisions.


      2. I recall being able to link containers, which would be nice, but we’re still talking apples and oranges. Gutenberg wasn’t designed to be an end-to-end content development environment. It’s a malleable content asset deployment environment made for people who played with LEGOs.

        And the whole AV editor thing? Stroke, delete/copy/move/paste. That’s the continuum I’m talking about. A singular stream of data that could be slice & diced, at will, with no concept of block-divisions.

        I’ll take Film and video for 500, Alex
        Here you go. The smallest building blocks of film and video are called what?
        Smack – Bzzzzt!
        What are frames?

        Like writing. Most of what we see is the sentence. But it all starts at the letter level. putikalur spellun.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.