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Re: Baby Steps or Backwards Steps?

From: Gregory J. Rosmaita <oedipus@hicom.net>
Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2007 17:14:58 -0400
To: HTMLWG <public-html@w3.org>, wai-xtech@w3.org, James Graham <jg307@cam.ac.uk>
Message-Id: <20070815211249.M44334@hicom.net>

james wrote, quote
For millions of people with flickr accounts I suspect imposing a 
requirement to provide alt text for each image would quickly drive them 
to a different service that did not impose such a requirement. Yet the 
_point_ of flickr is the images. You cannot force people to enter 
metadata, much less the kind of high-quality metadata needed to explain 
the meaning of something visually complex like an abstract photograph.
unquote

1. if you want to describe your pictures at your flickr account, you 
   should be able to do so -- tersely AND in detail; you personally 
   don't HAVE to add an alt attribute, but if you don't your page 
   won't validate

2. the "requirement" isn't being imposed, it is being MAINTAINED --
   last time i checked the HTML 4.01 TR, it was required, and HTML5
   has yet to supplant HTML 4.01 as a TR; 

3. if one suffers from a lack of imagination, that is not the spec's
   fault; i have had many an abstract photograph and painting 
   described to me, by friends and strangers alike;  requiring ALT 
   text and providing for a long description is NOT imposing an undue 
   burden on anyone -- i have an album of photos i've taken in order 
   to simply find out from the wider community (also known as the 
   world) for which i've asked for descriptions, both terse and long,
   and those who bothered to view them didn't seem to find it at all
   impossible to explain to a blind man the contents of a photo he 
   has taken (http://my.opera.com/oedipus/albums) -- you vastly 
   under-estimate the capacities of your fellow humans when you make 
   such broad claims about the "problem" of explaning "the meaning of 
   something visually complex" -- how complex?  who determines the 
   level of complexity?  no one has even attempted to answer those 
   questions, instead, all i've heard are excuses and complaints 
   about the "burdens" being placed on page authors because they 
   have to implement something that takes a bit of thought, when, at
   the same time, the HTML5 draft contains a great deal of bloat --
   so much that several browsers and screen-readers crash when 
   attempting to render it; UNLESS a factual reason why a requirement
   should be deprecated is advanced, a required attribute should 
   remain just that -- a REQUIRED attribute

4. i have a question for you: is it "needless hyperbole" or just 
   an "urgent re-statement" of ideas, concepts and mechanisms that 
   are in danger of deprecation, without superior mechanisms being 
   provided for the needed functionality?  the documents produced by 
   the WAI and referenced in every process document and charter, 
   are w3c recommendations, and it would behoove the working group 
   to abide by ALL w3c recommendations, until they have been 
   formally superseeded or formally relegated as deprecated or no 
   longer applicable.

gregory.

----------------------------------------------------------------
CONSERVATIVE, n.  A statesman who is enamored of existing evils,
as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them 
with others.         -- Ambrose Bierce, _The Devil's Dictionary_
----------------------------------------------------------------
             Gregory J. Rosmaita, oedipus@hicom.net
  Camera Obscura: http://www.hicom.net/~oedipus/index.html
----------------------------------------------------------------

---------- Original Message -----------
From: James Graham <jg307@cam.ac.uk>
To: "Gregory J. Rosmaita" <oedipus@hicom.net>
Cc: HTMLWG <public-html@w3.org>
Sent: Wed, 15 Aug 2007 21:52:23 +0100
Subject: Re: Baby Steps or Backwards Steps?

> Gregory J. Rosmaita wrote:
> > baby steps?  you're talking about "baby steps" while the baby's still 
in 
> > the incubator?  the baby won't survive for very long as long as the 
> > following is in the HTML5 draft:
> 
> (as an aside this comes across, to me, as needless hyperbole).
> 
>   and, most importantly, if, in fact, an "image
> > represents a key part of the content." then it MUST be available to 
> > everyone -- content is content, no matter what format that content is 
> > encoded in...
> 
> For millions of people with flickr accounts I suspect imposing a 
> requirement to provide alt text for each image would quickly 
> drive them to a different service that did not impose such a 
> requirement. Yet the _point_ of flickr is the images. You cannot 
> force people to enter metadata, much less the kind of high-
> quality metadata needed to explain the meaning of something 
> visually complex like an abstract photograph.
> 
> > quote
> > In certain rare cases, the image is simply a critical part of the 
content, 
> > and there is no alternative text available. This could be the case, 
for 
> > instance, in a photo gallery, where a user has uploaded 3000 photos 
> > from a vacation trip, without providing any descriptions of the 
images. 
> > The images are the whole point of the pages containing them.
> > 
> > In such cases, the alt attribute must be omitted.
> > unquote
> > 
> > MUST be omitted?  you're telling us that a "critical part of the 
> > content" MUST NOT have alt text defined for it?  the alt attribute 
> > is a REQUIRED attribute under HTML 4.x for good reason -- the same
> > reason why i have proposed on this list that the summary attribute
> > be made a REQUIRED attribute for TABLE
> 
> I think there is a fine point here that may have been lost; the 
> alt attribute is only to be omitted *if there is no alternative 
> text available* i.e. the draft is attempting to distinguish 
> alt="" meaning "this is a decorative image" from (no alt)
>  meaning "no alt text has been supplied".
> 
> -- 
> "Mixed up signals
> Bullet train
> People snuffed out in the brutal rain"
> --Conner Oberst
------- End of Original Message -------
Received on Wednesday, 15 August 2007 21:15:19 GMT

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