Learn Open Things: TeX and Co vs Adobe and Co

User copyeditor has an interesting post about getting into TeX from the viewpoint of a publishing professional initially working with Adobe products, but caught by the "vicious update circle". You really should read it, and I do hope it will be continued!

The post reminded my of my former use of TeX, LaTeX and Co. I wrote my diploma thesis in pure TeX, and my doctoral thesis in LaTeX, and both I would do and use again. In my current job, formatting is less important, and I have to focus on content for reasons of time restraints. Therefore I switched to Markdown for documentation and note-taking, also for my personal affairs. However, the important thing in my opinion is to only use and learn formats and tools that are open (in access and use).

Is it reasonable to learn something that is actually owned by somebody else? You'd invest your time into their product or service, therefore linking a part of your most precious asset (your limited life-time) to it, actually increasing their value instead of your own. Rather learn things which are indepentent of a vendor or service, so that your time invested is worth something without dependency on any commercial interest — more freedom and satisfaction!

That's why I never wanted to learn the innards of Windows or any other proprietary operating system. Why I never learned in detail the use of a certain design program for integrated circuits and kind of the industry standard, for which my lab has an expensive multi-seat license. Instead, I learned KIC, an old and (compared to L-Edit) laughably small and simple design program, for my former job in designing and producing quantum cascade lasers. Why I prefer TeX, LaTeX, GIMP, Xfig, and the like to the "sexy" and powerful "industry standards" in image and text processing. And why I'm happy I can make use of Gopher, instead of learning my university's horribly expensive and demanding content management system!