This is a brief heads-up that the reason I’ve been blog silent lately is that I’m concentrating hard on a sprint with what I consider a large payoff: getting the Emacs project fully converted to git. In retrospect, choosing Bazaar as DVCS was a mistake that has presented unnecessary friction costs to a lot of contributors. RMS gets this and we’re moving.
I’m also talking with RMS about the possibility that it’s time to shoot Texinfo through the head and go with a more modern, Web-friendly master format. Oh, and time to abolish info entirely in favor of HTML. He’s not entirely convinced yet of this, but he’s listening.
You might think “Huh? Emacs already has a git mirror. What else needs to be done?” Quite a lot, actually, starting with lifting Bazaar commit references into a form that will still make sense in a git log listing. Read the recent emacs-devel list archives if you’re really curious.
Fixing these things are important to me as part of a larger project: cracking Emacs out of an encrustation of practices and history that has made it seem insular and archaic to a lot of younger hackers who grew up with the faster pace and the techniques of the web.
RMS did too good a job. Because Emacs can be a total environment that you never have to step out of, the culture around it has tended to become inward-looking and hold on to habits that smell two decades old now.
My favorite quote about this is from Text Editors in The Lord of the Rings:
Vast, ancient, gnarled and mostly impenetrable, tended by a small band of shepherds old as the world itself, under the command of their leader, Neckbeard. They possess unbelievable strength, are infuriatingly slow, and their land is entirely devoid of women. It takes forever to say anything in their strange, rumbling language.
Fortunately, RMS recognizes that this points at a real problem. Some of his senior devs don’t get it…
And if the idea of RMS and ESR cooperating to subvert Emacs’s decades-old culture from within strikes you as both entertaining and bizarrely funny…yeah, it is. Ours has always been a more complex relationship than most people understand.