I’ve been using Emacs ever since Robb Seaton wrote about using writegood-mode. to improve one’s writing clarity. To be honest, I think most people could do without it. In fact, most people don’t need Emacs at all. Emacs can do anything done by any other program. If it can’t yet, I assure you that someone is working on it. You can use it to play Tetris, write emails, take notes, maintain a schedule, and engage in almost any other productive or unproductive task. (Still looking for an Emacs video editor.) Browse the internet or run a regression. The world is your oyster. In fact, I’m writing this blog post from Emacs right now. It’s amazing.
It’s still unnecessary. I could write my blog posts in WordPress. I could play Tetris on an app on my phone, or some janky flash website. I could take notes in any text editor, and maintain a schedule with a calendar app. I’ve done all those things in the past. On their own, its easier to do things that way. Emacs comes with a learning curve that my phone’s calendar doesn’t have.
One of the reasons I use Emacs is that it’s really fast. Taking notes, working on schedules, and writing blog posts is so much more efficient than using any other system. I’m still not sure why, but I’ve got a theory.
One of the important mental models that I’ve learned about is switching costs. Switching from one grocery store to another can be annoying. All the food is in different places! But switching from one note taking app to another can be even worse. You’re fine with Evernote until you need a feature it doesn’t have. I’ve found myself in the situation of working on similar tasks on three different applications because none fit my needs. That means I had to learn three different systems when I only needed one.
Emacs does everything. Without any experience, you’ll need to look things up sometimes. After that, it’s honestly pretty simple. I suck at coding, unlike the programmers that typically use it. Give it a couple hours, and you’ll be able to get a working agenda and take notes. Give it a month, and you may find yourself doing ten times the work you can normally get done in a given day (assuming your work consists of manipulating information).
Leap into the rabbit hole. You won’t get it until you do. Once you do, you probably won’t look back.