“A man is born gentle and weak.
At his death he is brittle and stiff.
Green plants are filled with sap.
At their death they are withered and dry.
Therefore the stiff and unbending is the disciple of death.
The gentle and yielding is the disciple of life.
Thus an army without flexibility never wins a battle.
A tree that is unbending is easily broken.”
Tao Te Ching – Passage Number 76
Two years as the editor of Vector: it is hard to resist the temptation to collect a few thoughts in form of a balance. The joy and the excitation of working side by side with the group of nice and competent people composing the Vector Working Group is mitigated by the apparent lack of participation of our (my?) readers. I remember, back in the days when I was a young reader, I always enjoyed reading the letters and it was particularly intriguing when one thread would span several issues, involving several people, whose names I learned to recognise and respect. The number of letters sent to Vector has been dropping steadily and now is very close to a sad zero on average per issue. This is hard for me to understand: I am even ready to assume that the articles are uninteresting. But the reaction I would expect would be to be flooded by messages from angry subscribers asking for content more appealing. This dead calm is unsettling.
You certainly noticed that thanks to a French contributor, we even tried to revive the wonderful column of programming challenges, proposing the puzzle of the tessellation of the cube (see issue 16.3 page 44). After all these months the Working Group has received only three solutions, namely: mine, Adrian Smith’s, and (hooray!) one coming from a reader. Once again, I cannot believe the challenge was so complex to distract too much all the busy professionals, lost in the aftermath of the Y2K doom, or so easy to be tagged as boring.
The funny thing is that it has never been so easy to communicate: in addition to the old ways (address book, paper and pen, envelope and stamp) we have at our disposal lists of addresses up-to-date online on the web pages, e-mail, SMS, when Fax and telephone are not enough. We are very laid back, so there’s no need for formal introductions and elaborate greetings. We understand English, French, Italian, Danish and would not be scared by Spanish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, German.
We have fun with what we do, but it would be much better if you had fun with us.
So, why don’t you let us know what you think?