Date: Mon, 31 Oct 94 11:53:47 EST From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Kee Hinckley) Message-Id: <9410311653.AA09067@utopia.utopia.com.utopia.com> To: email@example.com Subject: Re: More thoughts ----- Transcript of session follows ----- While talking to www0.cern.ch: >>> MAIL From:<firstname.lastname@example.org> <<< 554 buildaddr: no host >>> QUIT <<< 554 buildaddr: no host 554 <email@example.com>... Remote protocol error ----- Unsent message follows ----- Received: from utopia.utopia.com.utopia.com by wraith.utopia.com (4.0/SONY-4.0MX) id AA27954; Fri, 28 Oct 94 14:14:47 EDT Return-Path: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Received: by utopia.utopia.com.utopia.com (4.1/ASI-1.0) id AA06374; Fri, 28 Oct 94 14:18:38 EDT Date: Fri, 28 Oct 94 14:18:38 EDT From: email@example.com (Kee Hinckley) Message-Id: <9410281818.AA06374@utopia.utopia.com.utopia.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: More thoughts I have seen a number of people say things like: > it's presumptuous for the provider to dictate the details of page > layout to the consumer. or > I think some of the demands for precise layout is a bit of a holdover from > when information providers were -required- to make all of the layout > decisions (e.g., hardcopy). The Web is a different medium where the consumer And people keep mentioning dumb terminal browsers. A few assertions: o If dumb terminals were important to the commercial success of the internet, the internet would have been a commercial success a long time ago. (I know, there are other factors, but frankly, the future is not in dumb terminals.) o Even if they are important, that doesn't mean that you need to design *for* them, just that you need to make sure that the information presented can be displayed somehow. Saying we can't do fonts because of dumb terminals is like saying we can't do images because of dumb terminals. There are tools out there that strip a postscript file down to bare text that you can read. Not pretty, but it does contain the information. Or does it? Which leads to: o Information and presentation are not as separable as people seem to be asserting. Let me quote from Terry Swack, a Boston- based designer: If knowledge is information in a context, then content and form cannot exist without one another. Information that is all content is equally as uncommunicative is that which is all form. This loss of differentiation must not be discounted. If design is not integrated with the development of technology, there will be no catching up. We will have created for ourselves a world of useless content. (http://www.ai.mit.edu/people/jaroslav/credits.html or go to the root at http://www.ai.mit.edu/people/jaroslav/Convergence.html) o Precise layout demands are *not* a holdover from the days of print, they are a part of the common desire to use layout to present information, and to use layout to create an esthetically pleasing appearance. Designing a system that cannot provide a high level of graphical control in this day and age is going to result in a system that will die out of use. Here, I'll make a prediction and you can come and kick me and five years and tell me I was wrong. If HTML doesn't provide a higher level of presentation capabilities then the market for the Web will either die, or a replacement language, including the hot-link capabilities, will become the primary mechanism and HTML will become have only a secondary role in the commercial use of the Web. Finally. o People keeping saying asserting that the user should have control of fonts, they should have control of layout, they should.... Just *who* are you designing systems for? If you are designing sytems for people just like yourself, then you are absolutely right. I used to work at a workstation company that designed systems for people just like themselves. When workstations started appealing to a broader market, they got swallowed up. Fundamentally we have a conflict here. There is a large group of people who are putting their salaries, career and families on the line betting that the internet, which they have been using all these years, is now commercially viable to a much larger audience. And there are another group who are still looking at it from a much purer academic viewpoint. Both groups need to co-exist, both have something to offer each other. But throwing around words like "must not", and "should never" isn't going to get us anywhere. As the folks at Mosaic Comm have shown us, whether for right or wrong, the future is no longer in any one group's control.