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Re: img alt text, links and titles

From: Charles F. Munat <chas@munat.com>
Date: Thu, 17 Jan 2002 18:27:10 -0800
Message-ID: <3C4787FE.40606@munat.com>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Harry Woodrow wrote:

> I just can't see this. There is a big diference between the logo of say
> McDonnalds and the words McDonnalds.  The logo is an oficial symbol, it has
> semantic meaning and possibly also legal meaning. To a greenie it may stand
> symbolize mush and environmental and moral degredation, to many kids those
> Golden Arches represent a great time out with special food and nice toys
> with te food.  THe words do not invoke these extra meanings, there are lots
> of people names McDonnalds.
> If we are concerned with representing the information on this page the use
> of the word logo in the Alt text would seem to convey a lot more meaning and
> information than the mere use fo the words.


Um, no. Did I mention that the answer is no? No.

To begin, "logo" doesn't tell me anything, except that there is a logo 
there. How does the word "logo" mean "a great time out with special food 
and nice toys"? (Bleah!) It doesn't. It just means logo.

Nor does it mean "environmental and moral degredation" or "mush." It 
just means logo.

But you are exactly right that there is meaning conveyed by the actual 
logo. Al Gilman spoke about this on this list (or was it the GL list?) 
several months ago. The thing is, you can't convey that meaning by just 
saying "logo". While you might think "heart attack special" when you see 
the McDonald's logo, you almost certainly don't think that when someone 
says to you "McDonald's logo!"

In fact, I would argue that adding the word "logo" makes it *less* 
likely that you will think of yummy sodium-laced fat-impregnated potato 
slices. If I say "McDonald's!" you probably think "Hamburgers!" If I say 
"McDonald's logo!" you probably think "What?"

So how DO we convey this information? Hell, I don't know. The same 
question could be asked about those images we call "eye candy" and give 
alt="" to. I built a site for a real estate agency in Puerto Vallarta. 
This site is full of images of swimsuited beauties on sandy beaches, 
sailboats, palm trees, and red-roofed houses. None of these images has 
anything to do with the text that it appears next to, but all of them 
are indeed there to send a message.

How do we get this same message across to blind users?

My guess is that the solution is the same solution that has been 
proposed for dealing with users with cognitive disabilities: use a 
variety of media. So maybe those images should have little blurbs 
associated with them giving scintillating descriptions of Vallarta (not 
necessarily matched to the image). "In Vallarta, when the cool breezes 
blow across the sunny beach, you can watch the white sails fluttering as 
you sip your delicious frozen margarita and relax in the warm sun..."

When bandwidth improves, no doubt more sites will have background music 
associated with them. In fact, it is only a matter of time before sites 
talk to you. (I can hardly wait... not.)

My guess is that on the McDonald's site there is already enough 
advertising copy to more than make up for any loss derived from not 
seeing the logo.

One thing I am certain of, however, is that adding the word "logo" does 
*not* convey any extra meaning -- nothing worth knowing, anyway.

[Horrible embarrassing admission necessary to prevent conflict of 
interest claims: Once, long ago, I managed a McDonald's. There! My awful 
secret is out.]

Charles F. Munat
(Who hopes that Harry Woodrow has a sense of humor.)
Seattle, Washington
Received on Thursday, 17 January 2002 21:25:53 UTC

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