W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-gl@w3.org > April to June 2001

Re: Illustrating Guidelines

From: Sean B. Palmer <sean@mysterylights.com>
Date: Thu, 10 May 2001 02:50:01 +0100
Message-ID: <00e401c0d8f3$b4106600$88f089d4@z5n9x1>
To: "William Loughborough" <love26@gorge.net>, "Anne Pemberton" <apembert@erols.com>
Cc: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
> > [...] There is also little (almost no!) illustration used
> > at f2f meetings - almost certainly none that cannot be
> > reduced to spoken language, hence text.
> This is a detriment to communicating our output. We are limiting
> our audience to those who are facile with text ... but our true
> audience goes beyond such definitions.

Yes! This reminds me very much of the sign-object-concept relationship
of John Sowa that Seth keeps going on about. Words are a
representation of concepts... but so are pictures. Why should we limit
ourselves to one form of expression when another can serve just as
well (and indeed better) in certain contexts?

The problem is as WL pointed out - text is repurposable. Any generic
symbols can most likely also be made to be repurposable, and then you
get into that awful murky area about what constitutes a good "sign"...
does a lightbulb in a sign mean a lightbuld or an idea? With words
it's usually clearer because of the context, but pictures are more
difficult (although not impossible) to assign contexts to.

SVG is a bright light on the horizon, because it allows certain parts
of images to be repurposed... but it lacks implementation.

As William says, this might well change the way we think, but it is
unlikely to change what we do. That's a shame, but at least it is an
almost understandable shame. Still, I like the notion of reversing
"provide text for multimedia" to "provide multimedia for text". One
interesting point to raise is that by adding text to images you aren't
really doing much except enabling repurposing... whereas by adding
multimedia to text, often you can add something that simply cannot be
expressed in text. Which is more moving - an article about war in
black and white, or an article about war with pictures of the tragides
that are occuring? William is always asking us (with good reason!) to
think of the starving babies, but maybe he would have more impact if
he attached a picture of a starving baby to every email that he sent?

I suppose illustrations could make a good Barnraising.

Kindest Regards,
Sean B. Palmer
@prefix : <http://webns.net/roughterms/> .
:Sean :hasHomepage <http://purl.org/net/sbp/> .
Received on Wednesday, 9 May 2001 21:49:54 UTC

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