W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-svg@w3.org > April 2005

RE: Comments on textArea vs flowText

From: Doug Schepers <doug@schepers.cc>
Date: Sat, 30 Apr 2005 14:31:07 -0400
To: "'David Woolley'" <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>, <www-svg@w3.org>
Message-Id: <20050430183159.DAFE4184F0C@pillage.dreamhost.com>

| > Speaking as one who has studied linguistics, let me asssure 
| you that 
| > HTML's semantics are woefully inadequate. It does a passable job on 
| > superficial
| The reality, though, is that most authors of HTML don't 
| understand linguistics enough to even use the limited 
| features in HTML; most authors markup directly for 
| presentation.  (HTML was, of course, deliberately limited to 
| try to make it easy to learn.)

Hi, David-

Of course they do. Native speakers of a language understand their
orthography very well. I know you aren't saying that people don't know about
paragraphs and quotes and titles; you're saying that people don't understand
the need for and intricacies of markup, which is valid (although it seems
totally obvious to *me* ;) ). 

Average people don't need to understand markup. Few people actually do
markup by hand, other than those who know what it is. Most people use
software to automagically mark up their text, such as wysiwyg editors and
online blog forms, etc. As long as those things are smart enough and
well-enough designed (an ambitious statement, I know) to convert the
traditional conventions (in English, line break between paragraphs, quotes
around references) to markup (in HTML, <p></p>, <quote></quote>), there's a
change for the Semantic Web to emerge. However, if there isn't adequate
markup to program towards, these efforts are going to founder.

Which brings me to my next point, which is that designing a spec to be easy
to use and designing it to meet the lowest common denominator of use-cases
is not the same thing. The (usually ignored) addition of <quote/> to HTML
does not make HTML harder to use; in fact, it makes it easier to use for
those who want to use it right. Just because most people don't want to use
the full potential of a markup language is a poor excuse for not building in
the richer structures that some people do want to use, and which can grow
into more common usage. If all English were capable of were quarterly
reports, I think it would be less interesting than as a medium for rich
metaphor, poetry, and eloquence. Let's shoot for eloquence as the best-case
scenario, not mediocrity.


doug . schepers  @ vectoreal.com
www.vectoreal.com ...for scalable solutions.
Received on Saturday, 30 April 2005 18:32:05 UTC

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