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WWW: Interoperability Crisis?

From: Sean B. Palmer <sean@mysterylights.com>
Date: Sat, 20 Jan 2001 14:51:20 -0000
Message-ID: <005701c082f0$a0729680$faec93c3@z5n9x1>
To: <www-talk@w3.org>
Summary: The WWW is turning into "TimBL's nightmare" requiring different
pages for different browsers, due to a total lack of Web interoperability.

When I first started writing HTML, I thought that some of the features were
neat (images, scripts...), but as time wore on I became concerned with just
how usable, interoperable and future proof my pages were. So, I wanted to
find out how to write a page that I could abandon, and still have it
working in ten years time...
Recently I have decided that it is impossible. I do feel some sense of
satisfaction that TimBL's very first Web pages still work on current
browsers... but I wonder for how much longer. I believe that 99% of Web
pages are wholly interoperable, with the remaining 1% just "very"
interoperable... even pages fully conforming to W3C specifications.
Technically, <font> is still an allowed part of XHTML m12n, but at least
Basic/1.1 will not include it.
What hope? It is possible that XHTML 2.0 will fulfil its promise of being a
markup language allowing you to store all of your data and its alternatives
in a simple interoperable format - but I rate the chances of that at about
0.5%.

The problem is that the problems don't really extend from HyperText; it is
possible to build a very good Web page with just <title>, <hx>, <p>, and
<a>. The problems come from the integration of HyperMedia...
HyperMedia is "HyperText which is not constrained to being text". Great,
except our current UI technologies don't allow for any great integration of
that with HyperText, and do not allow for the proper media equivalents to
be set up, ala the WAI WCAG guidelines.

I'm sure people can work out the conclusions for themselves, so I'll simply
state what I reckon we should do about it. Well, I for one have
concentrated on two areas: keeping a close eye on XHTML, and the WAI. The
WAI people know what they're talking about, but they need a lot more
promotion to carry their message across.
Also, we need better UIs, and not the corrupt junk we have seen recently.
Next, ban JavaScript and Flash: that will improve the integrity of the Web
at least ten times :-)

*sigh* I think the damage is done already though, written into the
foundations of the Web itself. In the early days there was (astonishingly)
too much doing at now enough thinking, and now the reverse is true.

--
Kindest Regards,
Sean B. Palmer
@prefix : <http://infomesh.net/2001/01/n3terms/#> .
[ :name "Sean B. Palmer" ] has :homepage <http://infomesh.net/sbp/> .
Received on Saturday, 20 January 2001 09:52:54 GMT

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