Self Wright

Tag: text

On the flow of text on the page

Xanadu

Ever since I’ve been doodling around on apps/tools like Notion1, Tinderbox2 and Roam3, I feel constrained when I look at the flow of text on a regular book.

Of course, it had to be that way in the beginning, because the printed word began with movable type, which had to be laid out in rows, and the page was composed of rows, and so words flowed top to bottom.

But (okay, speaking for myself here) I don’t think like that, and I don’t read like that either. If someone were to track my eye movement on the page of a book, it’s not dissimilar to that of a long-form article in the browser.

I don’t go left-to-right, top-to-bottom, I’m always darting around, going back and forth, summarizing as I go along, judging whether I want to proceed.

It would be interesting to see — while keeping the medium of paper — have a more random layout, perhaps with arrows linking blocks of text … maybe using colors and labels on links …. Just breaking down the wall of text that exists right now into tiny little pieces.

I’d read that.

  1. https://www.notion.so/desktop
  2. http://www.eastgate.com/Tinderbox/
  3. https://roamresearch.com

W3m with Emacs on OSX

Why would you want to do this? (You probably don’t :P)

In my case, I have a similar setup on a Linux box, and I like consistency, so …

  • Get w3m. I used MacPorts, you can use brew, it’s really up to you. If you’re using the former, run sudo port install w3m (assuming, of course, that you’ve installed MacPorts).

  • Get emacs-w3m: Run M-x package-install w3m (or select it from M-x list-packages)

Unfortunately, Emacs doesn’t seem to be very good with dependencies, so before installing w3m you’ll also have to manually install mew (I found this in the package repository) and apel (which I had to install the “old-fashioned” way — get this tarball, then run make and sudo make install … though if you find a better way please let me know!)

  • Now you can run M-x w3m, and you should see something like this (after navigating to google.com:

Emacs w3m

Emacs w3m

Here are a few keyboard shortcuts to get you started:

C-t T => Open a new session
g => Open URL
C-c C-s => Browse open sessions
C-c C-c => Submit form
Tab => Next link

You can navigate either using C-p, C-n, C-a, C-e or else (vim-style) using j, k, l, h.

Enjoy!

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