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RE: Tag Soup (was: FW: XHTML)

From: Arjun Ray <aray@q2.net>
Date: Sun, 5 Dec 1999 07:57:19 -0500 (EST)
To: www-html@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.10.9912050736350.24436-100000@mail.q2.net>


On Sun, 5 Dec 1999, Kjetil Kjernsmo wrote:

> On Sun, 5 Dec 1999, Arjun Ray wrote:
> 
> >Yep.  Gresham's Law.
> 
> Eh, Gresham's Law?

Often misstated as "bad currency drives good currency out of circulation"
when s/bad/cheap/ and s/good/dear is the truth - it's a rational economic
decision.  (Historically, the Gold standard came into being because of the
gold influx from the New World following the Spanish conquests.  All the
various "bimetallic" standards to preserve Europe's traditional silver
standard failed, as people hoarded silver and used the relatively cheaper
gold specie for payments.)

Tag Soup is easy to implement, easy to use, and poses few if any hurdles
on the learning curve.  Generalized Markup requires thought, planning in
advance, and militates against adhockery.  A program that supports Tag
Soup will find wider acceptance as a result - it is what people will
*want* to use, and have used by others.  That's the "market reality" of
TAGSOUP.DLL. 

> > Mosaic's "innovation" was to *reduce* potentially powerful markup to a
> > small set of lo-tech, readily apprehensible and "predictable"
> > formatting primitives - skip a line, indent/cancel, bold/ital/cancel,
> > font size change/cancel, etc.  
> 
> Yeah, it is true. I remember thinking that way when I first started to
> write HTML 5 years ago. 

Thank you.  That was a very candid admission!

> I remember one cute incident that made some difference: For the first
> few months, I never bothered to end Hn-elements, and since H3 looked
> like nice readable text in my browser (yes, Mosaic), I had H3 on all
> the normal text. One day, somebody e-mailed me saying "The content of
> your page is very nice, but in my browser, H3 means 1.5cm high
> letters".

Interestingly enough, I'm reminded of a very similar incident.  When my
company first decided to put up a "non-trivial" web page (mainly because
we had just acquired out first in-house marketing guy), all the text of
the various pages were encased in H3.  Well, Lynx in those days (Apr May
94) would capitalize the content of H3...   

  WELCOME TO OUR WONDERFUL COMPANY!  WE HAVE INFORMATION ON THE 
  FOLLOWING PRODUCTS...

When shown all this unremitting shouting, our hep and with-it marketing
guy was scandalized.  How dare Lynx *ruin* the page! Oh well...

> The problem is IM(NS)HO that page writers sacrifice usability of their
> pages (e.g. collapsing lists would have been great!), 

We had 'em.  In early 94.  But the Mosaic groupies and Netscape fiends
never knew.  They call this "vendor-driven progress", I believe.

> I think the WYSIWYG doctrine is to blame for this situation, everybody
> is obsessed with mainting control over every aspect of their pages,
> instead of being able to say "Here's my page, I hope you can use it
> for purposes I could never think of".

I agree, but the point is not so much to assign blame as to understand the
"forces" involved.  WYSIWYG *has* captured the public imagination, and so
in service to it, browsers are developed as extensions of the authors'
will rather than the readers'.

That's what Tag Soup is all about.



Arjun
Received on Sunday, 5 December 1999 07:35:14 GMT

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