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Re: Fw: QED & Marshall McLuhan

From: Al Gilman <asgilman@iamdigex.net>
Date: Tue, 08 Jun 1999 12:23:10 -0400
Message-Id: <199906081617.MAA61030@relay.interim.iamworld.net>
To: Ann Navarro <ann@webgeek.com>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
At 11:13 AM 6/8/99 -0400, Ann Navarro wrote:
>At 11:01 AM 6/8/99 -0400, Al Gilman wrote:
>>At 10:04 AM 6/8/99 -0400, Ann Navarro wrote:
>>
>>>
>>>Should a web site dedicated to quantum physics start with an explanation
>>>that gravity is what makes a ball roll down hill? Should a math site
>>>discussing chaos theory take the time to explain how addition works by
>>>showing two piles of apples being combined into one? 
>>
>>You have just proven Jonathan's point.  
>
>I don't think I have at all -- his assertion, as I read it, is that the W3C
>site should explain WAI theory, how to produce CSS, and all it's other
>information in so simple a manner that one not need to be able to
>understand the language -- or to start at such a remedial level that it
>teaches someone how to read along the way.

I believe you mis-read what he said, then.  He asked for examples first.
Not theory first.  He asked that the topic be introduced in a way that
required little linguistic sophistication.  Like the QuickTips in pictures.
 Not a bad idea.

>My assertion is that there is a place for basic learning -- and it's not
>necessarily the highly technical site. Nor is the expectation realistic
>that for the W3C to be "doing it's job" that it must present highly
>technical information so that it can be "digestible", for lack of a better
>word, by someone who is illiterate or who has significant cognitive
>disabilities. 

Well, my experience is that the Web, since Mosaic, is popular precisely
because the experience is not very technical.  I realize that the W3C in
general has a lot of its efforts devoted to resources for the technical
specialist.  I can sometimes pass for one of those.  A problem is that
Jonathan will use W3C and WAI interchangeably in a way that the
left-brain-intensive will trip over.  I do believe that there is a lot of
the W3C proper's product that can be left encoded in arcane text.  But that
part should be back in the stacks (library metaphor).  The front door to
the site should do its best to serve the WAI mission and provide an
approachable on-ramp that people can climb as high as they can in diverse
ways, not a single "labors of Hercules" testing course.  And unnecessary
barriers from over-dependence on language proficiency are to be avoided to
the best of our ability as much as unnecessary barriers from
over-dependence on visual function.

>
>I wouldn't expect to be able to climb Mt. Everest the first time I go
>backpacking....nor would I expect those who run expeditions up that
>mountain to provide a way for me to do so. 

But you could more easily understand _why_ not to start there if presented
with a three-dimensional graphic of Mount Everest next to Mount Monadnock.
More easily than with a pair of altitute measures encoded as decimal
verbalizations.

>If his position is something else, the presentation here needs to be
refined. >

I do hope this post helps a little to make what Jonathan is expressing more
generally appreciable.  Let us know where we fail to communicate and we
will keep trying.  This gap is important to bridge.

One of the consistent problem sources in communication is when people are
operating from different refinement levels of ontology.  The question as to
whether W3C and WAI are same or different for the purposes of this
discussion is a case in point.  My general observation on this is that the
people with the needs and questions generally have a coarser reticle or
ontology than the people whith the tecnological answers.  The experts need
a low-pass filter (forcing the use of broad notions where possible) to
provide a context set for communicating with their users.

Please consider the pragma made famous by the DRUMS work in IETF: be
flexible in what you accept, and strict in what you transmit.  The burden
is primarily on the experts to accomodate to the user ontology, not on the
person with the problem to analyze their experience into expert-speak.

Al

> 
Received on Tuesday, 8 June 1999 12:18:02 GMT

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