Re: The Final Word on Browsers and the Future

Scott E. Preece (preece@predator.urbana.mcd.mot.com)
Tue, 22 Oct 1996 10:00:46 -0500


Date: Tue, 22 Oct 1996 10:00:46 -0500
Message-Id: <199610221500.KAA04210@predator.urbana.mcd.mot.com>
From: "Scott E. Preece" <preece@predator.urbana.mcd.mot.com>
To: abigail@ny.fnx.com
CC: www-html@w3.org
In-reply-to: "Abigail"'s message of Tue, 22 Oct 1996 10:36:57 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: The Final Word on Browsers and the Future

 From: "Abigail" <abigail@ny.fnx.com>
| 
| Scott E. Preece wrote:
| ++ 
| ++ Well, clearly we all have different expectations of the Net.  I almost
| ++ always expect and need to see graphical information when I go to a Web
| ++ site - I'm usually looking for kinds of information that simply cannot
| ++ be presented usefully any other way (e.g., maps, screen shots).
| 
| Hah. You only _think_ they can't be presented in another way. Maps are
| usually used to find a route from A to B. But more often than not, I am
| able to tell someone on the phone how to get somewhere.  And I don't
| read up a uudecoded gif of the map. Of course, there is nothing wrong
| with presenting a map, just as long as you realize it's not the one and
| only way.
---

I speak from experience - the expected value of a map is radically
higher than a set of text instrutions, largely because the map presents
the whole context and can save you if you make a mistake or if there's a
detour or if landmarks or signage change.  Text descriptions are much
harder to keep up-to-date and depend too much on the speaker and the
reader sharing mindset and vocabulary.

---
| 
| Besides, I find the statement 'when I go to a Web site - I'm usually
| looking for kinds of information that simply cannot be presented any
| other way' highly curious. You mean, you are not interested in the
| subject, but just the way how it is displayed?
---

I mean that as often as not the information I'm looking for is visual
(maps, screenshots) or is best displayed visually (charts, graphs,
diagrams).

---
| I think a lot of people
| visit a web site because that site promises to give information about a
| certain subject they are interested in. Some information is almost only
| available as a picture, put the image there, a lot of information is
| best shown as a picture, but there is a text alternative as well: put
| the image there, and provide a text alternative. Other information is
| equally well given as text and as image: make the image available, but
| not as inline (or just a thumbnail as inline).  The last category is
| best presented as text: no need to put in images just for the heck of
| it. This includes most of the buttons, <hr> replacement gifs, etc. And
| no, I don't buy the "I have to attract readers" arguments. I'm talking
| about the web and information, not about money and ads.
---

The Web is not *just* about information.  In your "Web Dream" page, the
functionally useful information the doctors exchange is obviously very
useful, but the hospital has a perfectly reasonable interest in
presenting an image of itself that potential patients can use to try to
get a feel for whether they want to trust themselves to the hospital.
No, it's not as meaningful as tables of recovery rates, average length
of stay for typical procedures, etc., but (a) many customers simply
aren't that analytical and (b) even those that are are likely to also
want reassurance that it *looks* like the kind of place they would
trust.

I completely agree about the value of information and about the value
of making information as widely available and interoperable as possible,
but I also feel that less quantitative kinds of information have a place
on the Web as well and that advertising, spin control, and entertainment
are big parts of where the Web needs to be.  It's not *just* a library.

scott

--
scott preece
motorola/mcg urbana design center	1101 e. university, urbana, il   61801
phone:	217-384-8589			  fax:	217-384-8550
internet mail:	preece@urbana.mcd.mot.com