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Re: [320] Ability to be expressed in words

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@sidar.org>
Date: Fri, 29 Aug 2003 13:41:00 +1000
Cc: WAI-IG <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
To: Joe Clark <joeclark@joeclark.org>
Message-Id: <9B9873B2-D9D2-11D7-9FFF-000A958826AA@sidar.org>

Hey, we're on the same page!!

Nearly. I certainly agree that equivalence is a bad way to characterise 
the relationship between a brief set of notes on the "flight of the 
bumblebee" and the actual piece of music. (And I have never considered 
trying to explain what I like about Marianne Faithfull to a deaf 
person, although I believe it could be approximated). There isn't a 
strict verbal equivalent to Picasso's 'Guernika'. For that matter, nor 
is there a strict visual equivalent to Tolkein's "Lord of the Rings".

Fortunately there is a difference between "expressing something 
completely" and "expressing something adequately". Describing the 
colour scheme used for a page is generally doing more than is needed, 
in that it doesn't add to the user's experience of the page, and may 
not even be meaningful to them. Ditto for the pretty ribbon chosen 
instead of a normal horizontal line. Describing Picasso's 'Guernika' as 
"black and white picture of people and animals" is probably doing less 
than is needed.

But in many cases we communicate in roundabout ways, through rhetorical 
figures (Joe). While we might not convey the full beauty and superior 
nature of our communication, we can often convey the essence in words. 
For people whose experience of the Web is based solely on communicating 
through words, this is generally adequate.

There are of course exceptions. When we are producing pure art it is 
difficult to directly express it, although there may be value in giving 
some idea what it is about or the sensation it produces in a viewer. 
And when we are talking just for the sake of it, without saying 
anything valuable, or just to stir up argument, it is an open question 
whether it is more useful to summarise the statements made, or to note 
that "somebody made their usual pointless contribution".

The goal is to make our communication good enough. (I happen to dislike 
the phrase "able to be expressed in words" rather intensely, but until 
I have something better to propose I figure that it is good enough to 
convey the idea.I could of course be wrong). And describe ways that can 
be done.

An alternative is expected to be good enough, and in that sense it has 
a relation of equivalence (which is a broad concept).


On Wednesday, Aug 27, 2003, at 02:06 Australia/Sydney, Joe Clark wrote:

> Some things *cannot be expressed in words*. That's why words are not 
> the only form of communication we use. It follows-- pay attention, 
> Chaaalz-- that there aren't "alternatives" or "equivalents" for 
> everything.
Charles McCathieNevile                          Fundación Sidar
charles@sidar.org                                http://www.sidar.org
Received on Friday, 29 August 2003 00:56:24 UTC

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