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Humanist Archives: April 24, 2020, 8:41 a.m. Humanist 33.796 - the poetry of Unix

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 33, No. 796.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
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        Date: 2020-04-23 16:41:42+00:00
        From: Francois Lachance 
        Subject: The Poetry of Unix | Filing | Affordances


In this time of confinement, I have been reacquainting myself with Unix and
command line processing (heartened by C.M. Sperberg-McQueen's remarks both on
and off list). I have also been inspired by the threads on archive and secrets
of programming languages. I have been learning again and more.

I have had the time and luxury of renaming files with nice long human readable
names (I recall as some point MS-DOS forcing FOO.EXT on the user -- a name with
no spaces and only one dot to mark the extension). I like the discipline of


All file names are case sensitive. ¦ (See note 1 below)

You can use upper and lowercase letters, numbers,'.' (dot), and '_'
(underscore) symbols.

You can use other special characters such as blank space, but they are hard to
use and it is better to avoid them.

Source: https://www.cyberciti.biz/faq/linuxunix-rules-for-naming-file-and-


My little minimalist toolbox includes: rm (remove),  ls (list), cp (copy); mkdir
(make directory), mv (move). With repetitive use of this I have been able to
construct a directory to archive old versions of the html pages I have thrown up
over the years (taking them out of hiding so to speak with a link to the archive
from the home page (for the curious)) and hacked a little dropbox for my self
and others (clickable and cleanable thanks to the features of index.html (being
present or not)).

I have also explored the affordances of Apple's interface and remark that there
is more for me to explore (make alias, save as, duplicate, duplicate exactly).
And I have a sneaking suspicion that Microsoft's One-Drive owes something to
Unix/Linux for its nifty permission controls.

I miss the days of Wordperfect (scion of Wordstar?) which in my memory made
backups with the extension .bac automatically. And I must admit I never really
got to play with the great Note Bene before MS Word and its page-centred design
came to rule the world.

Thanks to all contributors to Humanist for provoking this useful and nostalgic
tour of the software I have touched (not always softly) as I try to live up to
the tag line that accompanies my signature these days -- to sort and shuffle --
in an embodied and remembered fashion.

Note 1
I once used case sensitivity in names to exert a kind of version control for
content management (managed via chance operations a la Cage)

Happy travels in, as the LRB says, improving the quality of your solitude,


~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~
François Lachance
Wannabe Professor of Theoretical and Applied Rhetoric

to think is often to sort, to store and to shuffle: humble, embodied tasks

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