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Re: conflation of issues or convergence of interests?

From: Jason White <jasonw@ariel.its.unimelb.edu.au>
Date: Sun, 29 Jul 2007 10:38:45 +1000
To: wai-xtech@w3.org
Message-ID: <20070729003845.GB4141@jdc.local>

On Sat, Jul 28, 2007 at 03:01:38PM +0200, Anne van Kesteren wrote:

> If the new language requires a completely different architecture it is 
> unlikely to be adopted. Or maybe it is adopted, but the accessibility 
> features are not being put to use. I think it will be easier for features 
> to become adopted if they don't require a lot of rethinking, but rather can 
> be incrementally deployed. I think that's one of the reasons it's important 
> to look how authors are solving problems now.
> I suppose it's a bit like social science. Getting statistics on what's 
> currently being done to see how we can improve the situation without 
> radically changing it.

This carries the risk, however, of perpetuating suboptimal aspects of existing
practices, and of failing to grasp opportunities for improvement by declining
to introduce a better design. In turn, this creates a long-lasting legacy that
becomes difficult to reverse later, thus compounding the problem.

While I agree that existing practices can inform the design, they should not
be regarded as constraining it. After all, one of the principal purposes of
enhancing HTML is to enable and encourage the Web to shift toward semantically
richer markup, as a superior replacement for the mess (both syntactically and
semantically) that too often occurs today.

As user agents and other tools take advantage of this semantic richness,
existing practices will change in both foreseen and unforeseen ways. Thus,
while knowledge of current practice is informative, there is a danger of its
exercising too much of a conservative influence, which must be guarded against
in these discussions.

Design consistency, having a well defined specification, offering genuine
improvements over current markup and providing features that will adequately
serve the purposes for which they are introduced, will all encourage adoption.
Minor improvements over existing practices may, on the other hand, lead
potential implementors to conclude that the additional benefits are not
sufficiently great to warrant adoption.
Received on Sunday, 29 July 2007 00:38:59 UTC

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