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RE: Pentium III-only sites coming

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 4 Mar 1999 16:05:13 -0500 (EST)
To: Brumage_D <Brumage_D@bls.gov>
cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org, David Meadows <david@heroes.force9.co.uk>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.04.9903041217001.21823-100000@tux.w3.org>
On the one hand, the development of new technology is a vital part of the
endeavour to provide accessibility. Since the tools do not currently exist
to access all the things which people use and love in the world, we must
either innovate and create new tools, or stop people using any tool which
is not currently accessible, in order to provide accessiblity.

The second option is not viable in the general case. There are instances
where it should be done (where two tools provide the same function, the
one which provides it in a more accessible fashion should be used, and the
other one not used.) but they don't generalise.

On the other hand, there are two approaches to innovation. One is to
simply try things, and see what should be tried next - a fairly simple
incremental process of adding gadgets, bells and whistles to what we have.
For accessibility, this simply implies that it is necessary to follow the
world at a distance of two inventions, creating tools to work with each
new bell or whistle.

The other is to look at what is being done, what else it would be good to
do, and what are the accessibility problems inherent in those activities.
This change in the set of requirements should produce a sea change in the
set of results produced: accessibility which is affordable, and

My objection is not, therefore, to the use of new technology - Intel and I
are both working on developing new technology. I am simply concerned that
marketing pressure (and market pressure) will be used to encourage the
growth of high-end wizrdry at the expense of general accessibility,
instead of encouraging the expansion of accessibility because this might
slow the rate of 'new-toy' acquisition.

This is not something which can easily be reduced to hard and fast rules.
If a bionic ear can be developed which will help people who are deaf to
hear, then the fact that it only works for people who can operatee a
physically small and complex device should stop its development (although
development of other control systems should also proceed).

It is my feeling that good corporate citizenship (by which I refer to
corporations in the broad sense of the word, rather than the narrow
commercial/legal definition) implies that a high-tech toy which makes a
relatively small difference to most of their employees, at a serious cost
to a few of their employees, would be rejected, and a better solution
found. It would mean that the approach to innovation and development
includes accessibility as a first-class technical issue to be dealt with
in the design, not something which is added on afterwards if it is

The fact that these ideas cannot be quantified or measured very easily
simply means that they require a bit of thought to implement them, and
that at the end of the day there will be differences of opinion as to how
well anybody (including me) has succeeded in following them. But I think
they are important ideas. And in so far as the use of new high-end
gadgetry is touched on by those ideas, it is a topic related to
accessibility, at a very fundamental level. (Which may not solve the
problems of today, but may avoid diving into a future where the problems
increase faster than they can be solved).

my 2 cents worth

Charles McCathieNevile

On Thu, 4 Mar 1999, Brumage_D wrote:

  Intel themselves admit that for most users the true added benefit of the
  PIII processor will be invisible due to current internet access limitations
  (bandwidth). However, with the current trends in cable modem, DSL and other
  high speed access capabilities, this will change quickly over the next year
  with a much larger percentage of Internet users having the bandwidth
  available to support real time streaming media. 
  In the mean-time this chip has a place in corporate America. Imagine you are
  tasked to create a training application to be delivered across your
  corporate network. This technology makes it much easier for you to produce a
  full multimedia interactive application delivered to your new hires via the
  corporate Intranet. 
  We shouldn't dismiss new technology just because we don't see the benefit
  for ourselves. In another couple years when this is the low-end or obsolete
  Intel offering we won't remember how we ever got by without it.
  > ----------
  > From: 	David Meadows[SMTP:david@heroes.force9.co.uk]
  > Sent: 	Thursday, March 04, 1999 1:08 AM
  > To: 	w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
  > Subject: 	Re: Pentium III-only sites coming
  > Lovey@aol.com <Lovey@aol.com> wrote:
  > [snip]
  > >...the common goal is to usher owners of a Pentium III into special pages
  > >where content such as streaming media, 3D interfaces and animation have
  > been
  > >peak-tuned to suit Intel's latest powerhouse processor.
  > I don't understand the value of this. How can content be "peak-tuned to
  > suit
  > Intel's latest powerhouse processor" unless they also supply every Pentium
  > III user with a T3 (or similar) link to the Internet? Isn't the type of
  > computer actually the least important factor in how a web page is viewed?
  > Is it just me, or does everybody else also think this is stupid?
  > --
  > David Meadows [ Technical Writer | Information Developer ]
  > DNRC Minister for Littorasy * david@heroes.force9.co.uk
  > "If you are worried that your children are going to read
  >  low-quality information, teach them. Teach them what to read.
  >  Teach them how to judge information."   -- Tim Berners-Lee

--Charles McCathieNevile            mailto:charles@w3.org
phone: +1 617 258 0992   http://purl.oclc.org/net/charles
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative    http://www.w3.org/WAI
MIT/LCS  -  545 Technology sq., Cambridge MA, 02139,  USA
Received on Thursday, 4 March 1999 22:03:35 UTC

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