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Re: distraction: bane or content?

From: Leonard R. Kasday <kasday@acm.org>
Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2001 08:51:59 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: Kynn Bartlett <kynn-edapta@idyllmtn.com>, Marja-Riitta Koivunen <marja@w3.org>, Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>, Al Gilman <asgilman@iamdigex.net>
Cc: WAI <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
My two cents in this...

I don't think it's possible to provide pure semantics.  For example, here 
are some different presentations of the same underlying semantic content:

1. [in English] The pencil is on the table.
2. [in German] Der Bleistift ist auf der Tabelle.


3 [imagine a picture of a pencil on a table]
4.[imagine an interactive game where you look for a pencil by shooting 
flares into a room, and you see a glimse of the pencil when you get close]
5. [imagine a movie where you see somebody put a pencil on a table and walk 
away.  You know, or at least assume, that the pencil is still on the table 
even after the table is out of view]

The semantic content is something more abstract that we can't write 
down.  All we can write down are different representations.

I think the wording of the current WCAG 2.0 guidelines avoids this problem, 
"Design content that allows presentation according to the user's needs and 
preferences "

That way of phrasing it focuses on presentation and allows us to address 
user needs without getting into the philisophical complications of 
providing pure semantics.


At 03:56 PM 3/12/01 +0100, Kynn Bartlett wrote:
>At 10:41 PM -0500 3/11/01, Marja-Riitta Koivunen wrote:
>>Authors could provide enough semantic information so that users don't 
>>have to rely on visual presentation. And when they do provide the 
>>semantics it also becomes easier to change the presentation with stylesheets.
>I get worried about statements regarding "enough" semantic information
>since I think it's a chimera that's impossible to catch or even
>define.  Even "enough semantic information so that users don't have
>to rely on visual presentation" is very, very hard to do, when you
>start examining it.
>I worry about a proliferation of "semanticism" causing a huge increase
>in the amount markup that must be produced, the number of tags or
>attributes that must be managed, the complexity required of the author
>when creating the content, and the requirements for user agents to be
>able to process this information.  It's a black hole that's very easy
>to get sucked into and like most black holes there are few easy ways
>out of such a pit.
>(I'm not against the idea of embedding semantics, when possible, into
>markup -- but I just get very scared by statements that we must have
>"complete" or "enough" semantics for user agents to fully manage the
>presentation on a semantic level.  I don't see it "working" nor do I
>see it as necessarily being desirable to the majority of web users
>and content providers.)
>Kynn Bartlett <kynn@idyllmtn.com>

Leonard R. Kasday, Ph.D.
Institute on Disabilities/UAP and Dept. of Electrical Engineering at Temple 
(215) 204-2247 (voice)                 (800) 750-7428 (TTY)
http://astro.temple.edu/~kasday         mailto:kasday@acm.org

Chair, W3C Web Accessibility Initiative Evaluation and Repair Tools Group

The WAVE web page accessibility evaluation assistant: 
Received on Tuesday, 13 March 2001 08:51:33 UTC

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