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RE: belittling designers, two kinds of accessibility

From: Wayne Myers-Education <wayne.myers@bbc.co.uk>
Date: Fri, 20 Oct 2000 15:38:23 +0100
Message-Id: <6F99E54D359CD3119FAF0001FA7ED9500178FB98@w12wcedxu02.wc.bbc.co.uk>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

To respond:

> The web is probably no longer what was originally 
> envisioned, but the
> original vision was limited and didn't take into account either the
> mushrooming of bandwidth and technology, or the popularity 
> that the web has
> gained.

Exactly what is limiting about a vision of a system of documents that is
independent of the kit used to view them? And the  mushrooming of bandwidth
on which planet are you talking about? Here in the UK, I am going to be
stuck with a 56K modem for some considerable time to come, and I know that
there are many many people around the world who connect to the internet at
still lower speeds. Fortunately, the original vision of the web is not
limited to a specific level of bandwidth. Your vision of what the web might
become, frankly, is limited to a certain minimum level of bandwidth, below
which, there is no access at all for anyone. Thanks but no thanks. And
anyway, that ain't the web.

> At some time in the years to come, the "original" 
> concept of the
> web will go away and the "horseless carriage" as a toy of the 
> privileged
> will be gone ... it's almost there already!  

Having large amounts of bandwidth *is* currently only for the privileged,
and while this remains the case, the original concept of the web is here to
stay. Thankfully. As for the horseless carriage analogy, now that we have so
many horseless carriages running around on the roads we have serious
consequent problems due to congestion and pollution. I wouldn't take the
analogy too far, but I'd point out that the average speed for vehicles on
the road in London, where I live, is the same today as it was 100 years ago,
due to congestion and despite the fact that we 'all' have cars - in fact
precisely because we 'all' have cars - and they get in each others' way.
Similiarly, if everyone had a massive bandwidth connection to the net it is
not clear that this would speed stuff up much by itself, since the backbone
of the net too would have to see a concomitant bandwidth increase of
gargantuan proportions to handle the vastly inflated overall volume of
traffic that would be the likely result.

If we all had home pages one megabyte in size (ouch), I suspect it would be
just as annoyingly long a wait to download on a fast connection as it is
today with 100K home pages (ouch) over 56K modems. I'm not sure of the exact
maths but suspect it isn't good. Meanwhile, textfiles are small and lean and
multi-media isn't. And thus will it forever be.

> But I cannot say that any one of them came to the web 
> expecting to cherish
> "documents" ... Should they be sent back to tv just because 
> the originators
> of the web didn't envision they would be here? Perhaps 
> purists can argue
> so, but these people are too real to me for those arguments 
> to have much
> flavor. 

I'm sorry, Anne, but this argument sounds absurd to me. It is as if you have
been given a fish and are complaining because it is not a bicycle. No-one is
sending anyone back to tv. No-one is asking anyone to cherish documents.
No-one is accusing anyone of not being real. But the web is still the web -
a device-independent document collection. And a large collection of putative
universally understandable multi-media documents is a large collection of
putative universally understandable multi-media documents - and not the web.
Crack the problem of device-independent multi-media and you may be onto
something - SMIL may have part of the answer here - but it's still not going
to change what the web is. That fish is still a fish, even if imaginative
folks like ourselves can close our eyes and imagine wheels and a chain on
it. The best bicycles - and I am being wholly serious - are not based on
fish. Similarly, the bicycle here - the vision of device-independent
multi-media universally understandable by all, ought not be based on the
fish that is web, but should be built as a bicycle from the ground up.

Hope this make sense.

Cheers etc.,


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Received on Friday, 20 October 2000 10:38:54 UTC

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