An Ode to $\latex$

I recently joined the TeX Users Group (it's awesome and you should join too), and was astounded to find the collection of texts they have available. TUGboat, the communications of the TeX users group is a treasure trove of interviews, tutorials, and guides. This has spurred a sort of introspective on how TeX has affected me, beginning with my first year of college.

I took Physics 212 at UIUC was probably my first real introduction to TeX, and the class (being Mechanics I) was astoundingly difficult for me, probably due to my obsession with League of Legends at the time. The major takeaway I got from that class, however, was how wonderfully typeset the exams were. I had briefly considered becoming a front-end developer in high school (thank god that career path never materialized), but certainly could respect a well typeset document. My resume at that time was copy-pasted from a Google Docs template, which at the time could barely pass for usable.

It wasn't until my senior year of college that I had actually respected latex, and that was only because CS 598 required us to turn in latex for our homework. By this time I'd already experimented with TeX enough to create a passable paper and resume, and sharelatex helped to ease the transition into TeX. By the end of the year, I was already madly in love with good typesetting.

TeX, looking back on it, would almost certainly be a startup today, with marketing one-liners such as "create content, not layout" and "a competitor for adobe indesign", yet it remains a wonderful open source product. There's something to be said when most papers are written in TeX, and each person that reads over those papers have been affected by TeX in some way.

There's a few technologies that've altered the course my of life, and $$\latex$$ is weirdly one of them. From flashbacks to exams in typeset to doing homework in sharelatex, latex has been a consistent witness throughout my entire college life, as well as beyond.

Posted: 2018-04-28
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