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Re: 3.3 clear and simple Re: 9 August 2001 WCAG WG telecon minutes

From: gregory j. rosmaita <oedipus@hicom.net>
Date: Fri, 10 Aug 2001 11:34:56 -0400
To: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>, "Charles McCathieNevile" <charles@w3.org>
CMN: Is it appropriate to eschew sesquipedalianism exclusively in
popularisation of the more refined external to the academe and other
exceptionally accepting milieux, or does it make sense to write clearly and
simply even to explain complex ideas to people in universities?

CMN: Actually i would argue that it is not any more appropriate to obfuscate
meaning through terminology when the audience is a Masters degree seminar in
philosophy than when the audience is a school class.

GJR: while the opposite of "clearly and simply" is "obfuscatingly and
prolixly", one should not assume that the lack of "clear and simple"
language on a page is an attempt to drown a lack of true content underneath
a deluge of obfuscation or an ill-conceived attempt to adopt an
"intellectual air" -- hell, if i can accept the fact that a lack of ALT text
is usually a display of ignorance, rather than a callous disregard for those
who cannot see or are not operating in the GUI environment, why can't others
accept the fact that terms such as "clearly" "simply" and "appropriate" are
_subjective_ terms that _cannot_ and _should not_ be measured against any
artificially "objective" scale of comprehensibility?  running content
through such an analysis is, at least to my mind, akin to validating a page
and claiming, simply by virtue of the validation and the DTD (lets say, HTML
4.01 Transitional, which, after all is a W3C technology "appropriate" for
the delivery of content in an accessible manner), that the document is
accessible...  yes, when something can be stated succinctly, it is more
likely to prove effective, but when discussing astrophysics (or, for that
matter, metaphysics), one can state things "simply", but that doesn't
necessarily mean that the meaning of the content will be any "clearer"...
that being said, i'm certainly glad that stephen hawking penned a "brief
history of time" so that the rest of us could understand the "comprehensive
history of time" which he holds in his head...  speaking of professor
hawking, his web site, http://www.hawking.org.uk/, is quite interesting and
worth a visit by every member of the WG)

i'm also not sure whether most of the techniques that you posted to GL
passes muster, as they strike me as very language-dependent -- unless, of
course, we are going to modularize a "clearly and simply" techniques
document which lists all of the basic syntaxic and best-practice rules for
every language known to mankind...


PS: no, i had never heard the adverbial form of "prolix" before i typed it
LANGUAGE, n.  The music with which we charm the serpents guarding
another's treasure.     -- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary
Gregory J. Rosmaita, oedipus@hicom.net
   Camera Obscura:  http://www.hicom.net/~oedipus/index.html
        VICUG NYC: http://www.hicom.net/~oedipus/vicug/index.html
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Received on Friday, 10 August 2001 11:34:06 UTC

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