W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > April 2007

ensuring the existence & enhancing the power of Q

From: Gregory J. Rosmaita <oedipus@hicom.net>
Date: Mon, 2 Apr 2007 12:02:28 -0500
To: public-html@w3.org
Message-Id: <20070402164434.M3312@hicom.net>

PRECIS: proposed, that the Q element use the "src" attribute to point 
to a target document, and redefine the "cite" attribute of Q to 
provide human-comprehensible bibliographic information; this would 
bring Q's attribute set in harmony with the use of the "src" element 
as a actionable target and the redefinition of the "cite" attribute 
to provide a human-readable citation, in harmony with the CITE 

a) reuse the SRC attribute in the same manner as it is used elsewhere 
in the HTML/XHTML spec - as a pointer to a specific target;
b) redefine the CITE attribute to bring it in line with the 
conventional semantic meaning of citation, which is to say, 
author, edition/iteration, etc.
here are 2 quick examples (NB: the URIs are fake):
<Q src="http://www.archives.gov/docs/constitution.html#a1"
cite="The Constitution of the United States, Article 1"
>Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, 
or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom 
of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to 
assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of 
Perhaps Mencken's most familiar -- and most often misquoted and 
misattributed -- aphorism is: <em class="air-quote">No one ever went 
broke underestimating the intelligence of the average American.</em>  
What Mencken actually wrote, is far more subtle, and yet even more 
cutting as social criticism: <Q 
cite="The Complete Works of H.L. Menken: Volume 3; Tinkle, Ivana, 
editor; (New York, Library of American Literature: 1998), page 27"
>No one in this world, so far as I know -- and I have researched the 
records for years, and employed agents to help me -- has ever lost 
money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the 
plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.</Q>
Note that in the second example, i have used the EM element to 
demarcate the false quote, allowing me to use CSS to mark the 
misquote with quotation marks, as it is not actually the text being 
quoted, but a common and widespread corruption of the actual quote. 
this is how the print convention of encasing a word or idiomatic 
expression in quotes can -- and i believe SHOULD -- be handled, by 
using EM to mark the quoted word, and CSS to provide the emphasis 
-- (or, if you prefer, air-) quotes. Quotation marks are also 
employed to denote euphemism and slash or ironic intent, as in the 
Kane Found in Love Nest with "Dancer"

thus, the Q element makes a clear distinction that what's being 
dealt with is an actual quotation -- which makes the Q element both 
a logical AND a semantically meaningful element.  as for the use of 
quotes for emphasis or to denote irony or sarcasm, since these are 
simply manifestations of emphasising a discrete string of text, 
they should properly be marked as EM, and styled so as to produce 
open and close quotation marks around the emphasized word or 
the Q element is more than merely a textual marker which replaces
the character entity (&#34; or &quot;) or actual quotation marks 
-- it is an element which can provide REAL context for the quoted 
text thanks to its attributes -- attributes that vastly contribute 
to the comprehensibility of related documents, entire web sites, 
hypertext or XML presentations, and online curricula:
the promise of hypertext has always been that it would revolutionize
the way individuals -- especially individuals who cannot process
printed material -- read documents.  the Q element does this by
allowing the author to provide extra information below the surface 
-- such as hyperlinks -- which the reader can choose to take 
advantage of, or ignore, at his or her choice.
the SRC attribute of the Q element will allow an author to specify 
a URI for the source of the quote without cluttering up the page 
-- enhancing both the readability of the document containing the Q 
element and the ease of comprehension of the document by placing it 
in exact context by hyperlinking directly to the location in the 
original document from which the quote was taken...

moreover, quotation marks aren't always used strictly for
quotations -- for example, a word or phrase may be encased in
quotation marks to emphasize a certain word or phrase, as in:

Finally, everything was back to &#34;normal&#34;.
quotes are also employed to denote emphasis, euphemism, and slash 
or ironic intent, as illuminated in the headline example given 

thus, the Q element makes clear that what's being dealt with is
an actual quotation - which makes the Q element both a logical
AND a semantically meaningful element....

an author might want to style the quoted text as italic or bold, 
or in different colors, by a font change, etc, instead of using 
quotation marks.  of course, this should and would be controlled 
by use of CSS, but styling alone -- especially if embedded in a 
SPAN element -- cannot convey to the user a vital item of 
important information: namely, that this segment of text encased 
in the Q element is an actual quotation; therefore, use of the Q 
element fits the needs and wants of both the author and the user: 
the author can style the contents of a Q in whatever way pleases 
him or fits in with the "look and feel" (there's another false 
quotation) of the resource, while the vital information that what 
is contained in the Q container it is an actual quotation is 
never lost.

part of my insistence on using, parsing, and rendering Q is that 
i am a screen reader user who would like the Q element to trigger 
a change in the reading voice's characteristics, such as a change 
in pitch or a change of voice (from male to female, male to deep 
voiced male, or whatever the user prefers), just as it provides 
expansions when it encounters the ABBR and slash or ACRONYM 
element, and how some screen-readers know to switch language 
libraries on the fly in response to the "lang" attrribute.  but 
all of this is dependent upon use of the Q element, rather than 
guessing whether content contained in &#34; is semantically a 
quote, or an ironic or emphatic use of quotes (the written 
equivalent of quote air quotes quote or my own habit of using 
quote unquote inline)
i also think that overlapping user sets would benefit greatly 
from the ability to have one's user agent or one's assistive 
technology, a list of quotes in a given document, as it would 
be of interest to some users to have the URI of the quotation 
displayed in the list of quotes' status line, so that they 
are aware to where activating the quote (as opposed to just 
moving to it) will lead them, and so that the end user can 
make an informed judgement on the veracity slash quality of 
resources cited in the document and thus assess the quality 
of the document, itself, as a reliable resource.

SELF-EVIDENT, adj.  Evident to one's self and to nobody else.
                     Ambrose Beirce, _The Devil's Dictionary_
Gregory J. Rosmaita, oedipus@hicom.net
Received on Monday, 2 April 2007 17:03:40 UTC

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