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Re: Rule of Least Power

From: Harry Halpin <hhalpin@ibiblio.org>
Date: Tue, 07 Mar 2006 22:41:54 +0000
Message-ID: <440E0C32.3010902@ibiblio.org>
To: www-tag@w3.org
Cc: "Cutler, Roger (RogerCutler)" <RogerCutler@chevron.com>

At least from my reading of the Rule of Least Power (and it took me a
while to finally understand what was being said), I think
the point is fundamentally on open world systems like the Web to
communicate as much as possible about your process (be that programming
language, web page design language, or whatever) upfront. It's a bit
different that Grice's maxim, since Maxim #2 is "Do not make your
contribution to the conversation more informative than necessary" - and
on the Web you never know how much might be necessary, so it's far
better to communicate as much as possible, and so restrain your choices
of languages to those that have properties that are known in advance.
And maybe I'm twisting it a bit, but I think this is a good argument
against using Java applets and for using REST architecture to deliver
information. But it could also mean mean using XHTML instead of some
more expressive SGML dialect for your web-page. Overall, the principle
seems fairly sensible and historically has been proven right again and

Bullard, Claude L (Len) wrote:

>The problem with that example is it contrives HTML to 
>be a programming language.   It isn't.
>Simple examples that do not obtain rob a principle 
>of its surface credibility. The fact that a principle 
>is easily misapplied may mean it is inadequately 
>formulated or its application context isn't common. 
>That means it begs its reason to be included among 
>general principles.
>As far as I can tell, this isn't a principle of 
>the computer science of building web applications, 
>but of politeness in a communicative context.  Again, 
>Grice's Maxims are equally applicable and better argued.
>From: www-tag-request@w3.org [mailto:www-tag-request@w3.org]On Behalf Of
>I think it's easy to make the case that such pages would, at least in
>senses, be less valuable than pages with similar content conveyed in
>This is a somewhat contrived example, in that few of us are tempted to 
>build static pages entirely in JavaScript, but that's the point.  In
>cases, the Rule of Least Power brings you to solutions that have 
>commonsense value.  I think that if one looks to such obvious examples
>may convince people that they are already acting on the Rule of Least 
>Power.  If so, maybe they can start to understand how the Rule might
>them toward useful decisions that they might not have made as well
Received on Tuesday, 7 March 2006 22:42:01 UTC

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