W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-evangelist@w3.org > December 2002

RE: Promotion of XHTML

From: Chris Hubick <chris@hubick.com>
Date: 30 Dec 2002 18:39:03 -0700
To: W3C Evangelist <public-evangelist@w3.org>
Message-Id: <1041298743.15347.119.camel@CHWorkstation.CHD.hubick.com>

On Mon, 2002-12-30 at 16:10, Alex Rousskov wrote:
> On 30 Dec 2002, Chris Hubick wrote:
> > The problem is making people care about doing something the /right/
> > way.
> First of all, I suspect there is no /right/ way to do it, and even if
> there is, we do not know it.

The web was invented to separate structure and presentation, doing so is

>  But let's imagine for a moment that we
> know the right way to do Web design. Why do people not care? Is it
> because, by their nature, people prefer "easier"  solutions?

My outlook on humanity is fundamentally cynical in nature.

I would say mainly, yes, to the "easier solutions" being the major
culprit.  As I said...people can easily get a web page which /appears/
to work for them and (or 95% of) their users without having to learn

>  Is it because W3C marketing is not effective enough?

In part, possibly.

The designers I know don't take accessibility and browser neutrality to
heart.  We need more Mac and Linux desktops, more WebTV's, more Mozilla
browsers deployed, millions of handhelds with wireless web access, and
every web designer needs a deaf or blind person as their boss.  These
issues aren't "real" enough to most of them.  They think if the page
works on their 15" monitor running Internet Explorer then all is well.

>  Is it because modern CSS/HTML makes people to
> stay away from what is right? Or do browsers make people do wrong
> things?

I think the browsers strict handling of XHTML will probably mean that it
will be extremely difficult to catch on.  I think if we would have
started out with this behavior 10 years ago, we might all be using
gopher or something today.  The reason the web is so successfull is
because of the low barrier to entry.  I think there is also a very high
elasticity of difficulty.  That is, make it a /little/ harder and you
will drop a /lot/ of web authors.

I think XHTML 2 will be the first markup language which will even make
it possible to realize the full ideals of the web while still creating
complex and attractive sites.  We still litter around our structure with
the use a lot of presentational oriented div's and span's today, which
we arguable shouldn't.  The richer semantics of XHTML 2, such as
sections, might make that possible.

> > Someone learning how to make web pages can sit down and relatively
> > quickly get the results they want without any regard to proper
> > structural based web design (font tags, etc).  It's hard to explain
> > to them why doing this is wrong, especially since "everyone else
> > seems to do it this way".
> True. Two conclusions can be derived from your observation:
> 	- either "proper structural based web design" is not "right"
> 	  for humans (so we need to change humans or change our notion
> 	  of what is right)
> 	- or the environment where people learn encourages "wrong"
> 	  behavior (so we need to change the environment)
> What we do next depends on which of the above three primary obstacles
> we want to change (humans, the notion of "right", or the environment).

I think it is the environment.  I think web authors need to be directly
exposed to the vast array of user agents out there.  They need to be
shown their sites on everything from PC's, Macs, Unix boxes, PDA's,
Braille terminals, voice browsers, etc, etc, etc.  And I think they need
better examples.  I think Wired's redesign is in the right direction
(but still far from ideal).  We need more good examples of real and
attractive sites which can display on any device.

> If you are right, then we are obviously wasting our time here. I do
> not think it is reasonable to expect that we can change our own Nature
> (except for, perhaps, destroying it).
> In my opinion it is not Human Nature. It is our notion of "right"
> and/or the environment that we have created. It is not clear to me
> whether perfect structural markup is the "right" thing for humans to
> use. Humans are not computers. You say that "most people do not care"
> and, hence, "create wrong markup". I say that the environment they
> create in forces them to create wrong markup.
> A student does not care whether the design/markup is structural-based
> or table-based. Thus, a priory, student does not favor one over the
> other! The environment should force that student to favor the "right"
> approach. Changing environment is possible, and the first step would
> be to identify what makes the current environment bad (again, is it
> the editors, the markup itself, the browsers, etc.?)

You have to draw the line somewhere.

I personally find using and HTML editor (which hides the details) /more/
difficult that doing it by hand with the spec handy, when creating a
complex page.

Are a plethora of icons easier to learn than </> ?  People seem to
fundamentally rebel against learning anything non-trivial.

I don't think the problem is any of these things though. I think the
problem is expectations.

People expect to be able to have control over things like fonts and
sizes, positioning, etc.  They miss out on the fundamental fact that
they web is TRYING TO TAKE THAT CONTROL AWAY, and they fight against it
from start to finish.  Traditional media thinking, rather than web
thinking.  Even people doing their first design in any medium have
trouble really grokking these concepts - or they give up and forget
about them when it get's down to the dirty details.
The web is a new paradigm medium filled with old paradigm thinking.

Chris Hubick
Received on Monday, 30 December 2002 20:39:05 UTC

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