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Re: Webmath

From: June Lester <june@sfu.ca>
Date: Sat, 15 Jul 2006 14:20:15 -0700
Message-Id: <F4CB984C-49A1-4DCF-A8D1-AF46AEA00452@sfu.ca>
To: www-math@w3.org

On 15-Jul-06, at 1:10 PM, Patrick Ion wrote:
> The WebMath list has been used mostly recently for general  
> announcements
> about conferences involving math on the Web or product  
> announcements.  It
> hasn't been very active.  I have no idea if the moderator June  
> Lester would like
> it otherwise.


Hi, all.

I originally started WebMath because I was interested in math on the  
web in general - not just the technical aspects of MathML, but also  
in the design of onscreen mathematics in general - visual,  
interactive, and all those wonderful things we were promised.  I  
thought it was a good idea at the time because the hype was that  
MathML was just around the corner, and soon there'd be lots of people  
interested in putting math online.  Obvoiusly, I was wrong about that  
one.  I still scan this list to see if anything promising looks like  
happening, but it appears to be mostly squabbling over technical  
details, with little in sight for ordinary mortals/educators wanting  
to do math online.

In retrospect, I'm not really sure I want MathML to become that easy  
anyway.  I have nightmares of huge numbers of mathematicians thinking  
"oh, good, not I can put my papers/lecture notes/whatever online"  
without ever thinking if perhaps there isn't some better way of  
communicating math than by pages of symbolic text.  With all the  
affordances now available onscreen, reproducing print onscreen seems  
hopelessly behind the times.  Yes, I know about ease of searching,  
annotating, etc. - but it's still TEXT.  Great for publishers looking  
to migrate their print activities online, but not much else, AFAICS.

For people interested in knowing what I think onscreen math could be,  
below are a few links to some preliminary essays, prototypes, etc.  
I've done over past years.  Most of it is several years old - I  
didn't used to have much time to work on this stuff.  However, about  
a year ago, I "semi-retired" and began a new Ph. D. in "onscreen  
mathematics communication design" (at least that's what my  
application said) at the School of Interactive Arts and Technology at  
Simon Fraser University. Thus far, I'm mainly doing courses, but the  
point is (eventually) to research the issues and ideas like those  
discussed on my MathDesign site, and hopefully produce design  
guidelines for others interested, not just for education, but  
possibly for, say, an online journal interested in promoting  
innovative mathematics communication through web affordances like  
interactivity and visualization instead of merely porting  
mathematical text to the screen. I can hope, can't I?  :o)    
Meanwhile, I'm also keeping an eye on Adobe's Apollo - don't know  
much about it yet, but maybe a combination of PDF for text with Flash  
interactivity is the way to go ?

Would I like the Webmath list to be otherwise?  I certainly would  
like more activity - wouldn't any listowner?  But please, pretty  
please, don't conduct arguments about MathML there, OK?  There are  
more interesting and important things to discuss.

Cheers,

June

MathDesign (archives):  <http://www.thejuniverse.org/Mathdesign/ 
previouslyIndex.html>

Linear Algebra Widgets:  <http://thejuniverse.org/PRESENT/index.html>

Conference Paper: Designing Interactive Matheamtics <http:// 
thejuniverse.org/Professional/DesignIntMath.pdf>

Demo Interactive Calculus Lesson (PDF, 7 Meg) <http:// 
thejuniverse.org/Professional/DemoLesson.pdf>
Received on Tuesday, 18 July 2006 02:12:15 GMT

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