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RE: @longdesc scope (was: HTML Media Transcript, Issue-194: Are we done?)

From: Leif Halvard Silli <xn--mlform-iua@xn--mlform-iua.no>
Date: Tue, 10 Jul 2012 08:07:03 +0200
To: John Foliot <john@foliot.ca>
Cc: 'David Singer' <singer@apple.com>, 'Chaals McCathieNevile' <w3b@chaals.com>, 'HTML Accessibility Task Force' <public-html-a11y@w3.org>
Message-ID: <20120710080703604853.4cc31576@xn--mlform-iua.no>
John Foliot, Mon, 9 Jul 2012 13:26:23 -0700:
>>> this is not a transcript.
>> However: That was not the kind of long alternative text that I had
>> mind.

> I think that your attempt to conceptually merge the ideas of transcript and
> longer textual description (in what feels almost like a re-telling of the
> abbr/acronym story),

@abbr to @acronym can be said to be like @longdesc to @transcript. But 
if, at the time of the decision, IE supported it and the IE enabler - 
the so called HTML5 shiv - had been known, then I think the outcome of 
the @acronym debate might have been differently ...

> while at a higher level may make sense, will ultimately
> lead to confusion at the authoring level.

David's view of what a "long description" is, have *me* confused: Can I 
use @longdesc to tell a scenic story - a cartoon/comic? Is it not a 
"long description" if I deliver a long alternative text that takes a 
"show, don't tell" approach, as opposed to a "tell, don't show" 

The following is part of the spec text proposed by the instate longdesc 

   "Web authors are encouraged to use this attribute for long text
    alternatives that are either too long  [ snip ]"

URL: <http://www.d.umn.edu/~lcarlson/research/ld-spec-text3.html>

This, to me, is a quite liberating small piece of text, as it - with 
the phrase "long text alternatives", alludes to HTML5's many references 
to @alt as "alternative" text for the graphic. In contrast, the phrase 
"long description" keeps limiting the understanding of what a long text 
alternative can be.

If it were to me I would thus have tried to underplay these confusing 
associations connected with "longdesc" from the instate longdesc 
proposal, by simply replacing the propose spec text's 4 occurrences of 
the phrase "long description" with the phrase "long text alternative". 
For example, I think the proposal's wording "a long description of the 
image" leads authors to a limiting interpretation of what it can 
represent. To instead say "a long text _alternative for_ the image" 
would have lead thoughts in more fruitful directions. I would perhaps 
even have added a *note* which said that @longdesc is not only meant to 
point to a 'description', in the pure sense of that word, but that the 
@longdesc resource may contain long alternative texts of the same sorts 
as the @alt attribute.

> "Transcript" (as opposed to
> transcription, which is what *you* seem to be ultimately talking about) in
> the world of multimedia/video has a distinct and well-understood meaning,
> and trying to leverage the higher idea of your proposal onto the web will be
> hurtful rather than helpful: after all, a transcript could also be "a copy
> of a student's permanent academic record" [1], or "a written record of
> spoken language in court proceedings" [2], so attempting to use a pure
> dictionary definition of any attribute can often lead to confusion.

When it comes to the dictionary, then it is the dictionary meaning of 
"long  description" I am concerned about. 

> Leave "@Transcript" to be what it is already known to be (as defined for
> media/video), and reinstate @longdesc, [...]

A few messages back, I said that I am parking the idea to use 
@transcript for the IMG element. But what I have not parked is the idea 
that @longdesc could point to content that others than me have 
described as comic transcripts.
Leif H Silli
Received on Tuesday, 10 July 2012 06:07:42 UTC

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