ReStructured Text

I have used, and continue to use [Markdown][] for a variety of purposes, one of which is writing this blog, and as much as I love it and depend upon it for a variety of tasks, I also recognize that it has its limitations. For one, when John Gruber and Aaron Swartz set out to implement it, they meant it as a shortcut to HTML.

And, well, let’s face it, HTML is a presentation language, not a semantic language: it cannot tell you what something is, beyond simple things like “this is a heading” or “this is a link.” I have tried to use Markdown, or the more powerful implementation of it, [MultiMarkdown][], to create more complex kinds of documents, but, in the end, it always feels like you’re trying to drill a hole with screw driver: it just isn’t the right tool for the job.

Well, along comes my interesting in computational forms of text analysis and my decision to commit to [Python][] for the time being, and I find myself introduced to [ReStructured Text][]. ReST, as it is abbreviated, was designed as a document creation language for the kinds of technical documents that accompany a language like Python. It offers a lot of power, if also a set of markup features that I find vaguely confusing at this point.

I have a number of things I want to do this summer — markup my collection of legends in TEI, investigate DoD funding of narrative research, learn to code — but one of the things I plan to do is to teach myself ReST, and the focus of that work is going to be my [vita][], which is currently maintained, quite poorly, simultaneously in a Pages document and in Markdown: the slashes in front of the dates reveal that I could find no other way to defeat Markdown’s impulse to transform any number at the beginning of a line into an ordered list. *Sigh.* I’ll post news of the results as soon as I have them. (I’m also thinking that an introduction to ReST might be a good post for [ProfHacker][].)

In the mean time, here’s a .

[Markdown]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Markdown
[MultiMarkdown ]: http://fletcherpenney.net/multimarkdown/
[Python]: http://python.org/
[ReStructured Text]: http://docutils.sourceforge.net/rst.html
[vita]: http://johnlaudun.org/vita/
[ProfHacker]: http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/
: http://showmedo.com/videotutorials/video?name=980010&fromSeriesID=98

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