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Re: linked list alternative to nested menus

From: Paul Novitski <paul@juniperwebcraft.com>
Date: Sat, 11 Mar 2006 03:17:09 -0800
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

At 01:08 AM 3/11/2006, David Woolley wrote:

> > language.  Do you mean that the things we commonly refer to as
> > navigation menus don't belong on web pages?  For example, a table of
>Yes.  In many cases they belong in the <link rel=contents> resource.
>In my view, the primary reason that this is not the case is that the
>early Netscape browsers took the position that they were using the free
>funding for Mosaic to get themselves into the page description market,
>and compete with Adobe, so thought about how to make pages pretty and
>gives authors primary control of presentation, rather than exploring
>the concept of a world wide web at the information sciences level.

Wow, David, you've got an interesting viewpoint, but isn't what 
you've done a bit like hijacking a discussion of comparative 
linguistics by arguing that we'd be much better off if everyone in 
the world spoke the same language?  Even if I were to agree with you 
hypothetically, how would such a viewpoint pertain to the real world today?

Show me a website without hyperlinked text and I'll show you a 
one-in-a-million, unnavigable, inaccessible, sterile stump in the 
middle of a thriving jungle.  Today's websites might be monsters of 
inappropriate evolution blighted by the tragic blunders of the past 
-- show me one human endeavor that's not -- but you can't deny that 
the current writhing pit of biological sewage we call the web is in 
fact alive, breeding, growing, and evolving.  One generation's spray 
paint vandalism is the next generation's elevator music; it's just 
the way things go.

I'm always looking for ways to improve my craft.  Show me how I can 
accomplish my goals better and I'll be right there with you.  However:

Even if you could persuade me that link tags are a better way to 
connect web pages than anchors -- and I'm not arguing that link tags 
aren't valuable, only that they're not the only way -- the fact is 
that the tidal wave of web design today utilizes lists of anchors for 
navigation.  Hey, it's not against the law:  HyperText Markup 
Language has "link" as its middle name.  The richer the hyperlinks, 
the richer the web.  Whether I compose a poetically flowing paragraph 
thick with hyperlinks or I rattle off a terse list of hyperlinked 
nouns and verbs, either way I'm enriching the interconnectivity of my 
material.  What, are you critiquing my poetry in a web-accessibility 
listserve?  Whoa, dude, back off!

- Do you agree that unordered lists are allowed to contain 
hyperlinks?  Of course they are; that's my prerogative as author.  If 
not, show me the HTML specification that forbids it.

- Do you agree that the link in one unordered list is allowed to 
point to another unordered list?  Of course they are; that's my 
prerogative.  If not, show me the spec that forbids it.

- If lists are allowed to contain hyperlinks and if there are no 
restrictions on the type of resources to which those links are 
permitted to point, then why are we having this discussion?

The more ways we can navigate among web pages the merrier.  It's 
refreshing to be reminded of the usefulness of the link tag, but I 
cannot see how this obviates the usefulness, appropriateness, or 
legality of hyperlinked text in whatever form I as author choose to compose it.

In fact, ordered and unordered lists inform their component items 
with organization and structure, more so than an unstructured series 
of link tags in the document header.  If you're seeking intelligent 
markup of text, aim for families of lists in the document body.

I began by asking whether anyone could comment on the relative merits 
of nesting lists versus linking lists in the context of accessible 
navigability.  If you can speak to this issue, I'd love to hear your opinions.

Received on Saturday, 11 March 2006 12:42:55 UTC

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