meta^x (equiv. to meta of meta of..)

June 19th, 2005

/me't*/ or /may't*/ or (Commonwealth) /mee't*/ A prefix meaning one level of description higher. If X is some concept then meta-X is data about, or processes operating on, X.

If you can't follow that, just remember that a meta-something is a description of something, roughly paraphrased meta means about.

I just noticed today how funny it is the way we deal with complexity. Have you ever tried getting into a subject and there's an overwhelming volume of books, tutorials and manuals about it, and finally you're relieved to find one that reads "What you should read first"? Imagine how much time it must have taken to write all that documentation, but if that wasn't enough, someone had to document the documentation, just so that Joe Schmoe could find his way around it. But then what if the documentation keeps growing, have you seen books that give you a "Chapter guide"? That's going even further, explaining what you will find in each chapter. Imagine you wrote that book, including the chapter guide, and someone would ask you to write a short explanation about why your wrote the chapter guide the way you did(!) That is now the 3rd level of abstraction, as in meta-meta-meta.

Why do I harp on this, you ask? Because I'm starting to understand what it's like. I'm edging closer to completing my big project and rough estimates show there's going to be 250 pages of documentation! You'll be relieved to learn that 100 pages of that is auto generated, so I've "only" churned out 150 pages myself. And the thing is, when you're writing a 30 page document, you should ideally have a pretty good reason to spend that much time on it. So not only do you invest all those manhours into producing good documentation, you'll also have to expect to justify doing it. See where we are now? meta-meta. That's right, I've written a chapter guide, no joke. Why do all this? The short and sweet answer is to keep my teacher happy and get a good grade on the project. The diplomatic answer is to provide a well documented product for whomever might be interested in it (most likely noone).

And the document index is growing ever longer.

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6 Responses to "meta^x (equiv. to meta of meta of..)"

  1. Erik says:

    LOL oh that was a GOOD bit. I was laughing here in this roman internet cafe and got some funny looks

  2. numerodix says:

    Didn't realize it was funny

    Btw the entire documentation is still growing, the latest estimate points to ~300 pages. I'm gonna stash it all in a bigass pdf and send it to the printer shop [I frequent].

  3. Erik says:

    Cool. Then wear a good outfit (suit or at least the jacket) when you have to present it and you'll nail it!

  4. numerodix says:

    Pardon? Present what? I did have a presentation already, two in fact. Tomorrow I'm just printing the biatch and I'll drop it off at school on Monday.

    Met with my teacher today, he didn't have any comments on things that should be done. None at all.

  5. Torkel says:

    Your gonna 300 pages printed from a printer shop? Isn't that gonna be incredible expensive? I've only printed something from a shop like that once, and I ain't doing it again.

  6. numerodix says:

    Actually I know the terrain quite well, I've been in there every couple of months printing graphics and lately a big poster for a conference. Printing that amount will prolly cost about 300 bucks, which ain't too cheap but another print shop at the university (ie. geared at students) charges 3 bucks a page!!!

    I might just print it at work instead though (got a gorgeous laser color printer )..