W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-publ-wg@w3.org > February 2018

Re: Pursuing the wrong goal? (was Re: A followup/writeup on our Monday discussions (was Re: Continuing discussion on Polyfills))

From: Dave Cramer <dauwhe@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 9 Feb 2018 09:06:31 -0500
Message-ID: <CADxXqOzDAVXUMr-SXngmERGfhBBA-xWmcTRDCex1_Z3tCmsYJA@mail.gmail.com>
To: Leonard Rosenthol <lrosenth@adobe.com>
Cc: "daniel.glazman@disruptive-innovations.com" <daniel.glazman@disruptive-innovations.com>, "public-publ-wg@w3.org" <public-publ-wg@w3.org>
(Note: written for a different email chain, but this rant describes some of
my concerns with WP)

At least this is the conversation we should have been having for the last
four years!

What problems are we trying to solve?

EPUB works, more or less. My company has sold a billion dollars' worth of
ebooks. Our industry gets people to pay for digital content—we make HTML
without advertisements. It's a miracle. At the most basic level, EPUB does
what it needs to do—it gets (some kinds of) books to the people, and they
can read them without worrying too much about technology.

Books are not apps. Books are not websites. Oh, we can do both of those
things. We have done both of those things, and it didn't work—nobody cared.
Web Application Manifest solves a particular problem—being able to save a
web site to the home screen of your mobile device. WAM is for making web
apps more like native apps. But our problem is not that web books are
lacking capabilities of native book apps.

I think the fundamental issue is that books are a separate category of
media, their own thing. Our expectations of user interface and affordances
is very specific to books, not generally shared with other web stuff, and
much closer to how we think about other specialized media, like music and
movies. I don't have five thousand separate album apps on my computer or my
phone. I have one app, which accepts a certain kind of content and provides
an identical interface for each discrete creative work. That's what reading
systems are, too. That's how people think about books.

What problems are we trying to solve?

We want a web publications spec. Are web publications actually a thing we
need? What do we actually mean by web publications? I share Garth and
Benjamin's concern about providing the interface along with the content.
The strength of the web stack is separation of concerns, although the
script kiddies seem to be forgetting that. Content is HTML. Design is CSS.
Interaction is JS. And what we forget is that browser itself provides much
of the user experience, handling links, bookmarks, history, search,
personalization, and so on.

What are some real problems? Nothing works everywhere—some things work
nowhere. We mostly can't make books with scripting. We can't link from book
to book. We don't know what the heck to do with math. ebooks still look
like crap compared to print, or most websites. Making and editing EPUBs is
a bitch. Everybody complains about walled gardens, but the gardens are more
like vacant lots with broken glass and burned-out cars. The ebook ecosystem
is more like gang territories—don't try to bring your Kindle books to
Google Play or you might get beat up. What we need more than anything else
is interoperability. Does the road we're going down in PWG get us closer to
that, or further? I don't know.

I think the very nature of how we relate to books means that packaging is
our key concept. Maybe we need PWP without WP. Maybe the trouble we're
having with WP is not accidental, but intrinsic. Books are more permanent
than web sites, we feel more ownership of them, they are more a "thing". We
don't travel through the intertubes to visit the one copy of a book on a
server somewhere. We each have our own copy, so the book has to travel, has
to be a thing, has to be packaged. Maybe the packaging itself can provide
the structure we're struggling with.


On Fri, Feb 9, 2018 at 7:41 AM, Leonard Rosenthol <lrosenth@adobe.com>

> Daniel - I think you hit the nail on the head there, but perhaps not in
> the way that you meant.
> I believe that this group - for obvious reasons - is too focused about
> finding a replacement for EPUB and *not* focused on building the future of
> publications for the web.  And yes, I very strongly believe those are two
> completely different things.  As you have said so well in other threads -
> let's go ahead and fix EPUB and address the concerns of *that*
> industry...but do that completely separately from solving what is needed to
> enhance the web for publications (of all types).
> I believe that it can be accomplished - even with our current charter -
> but it will require everyone to *want* to work in this fashion....
> Leonard
> On 2/9/18, 1:05 AM, "Daniel Glazman" <daniel.glazman@disruptive-
> innovations.com> wrote:
>     Le 08/02/2018 à 22:15, Romain Deltour a écrit :
>     > +1000. Can't agree more.
>     I wish I had Baldur's eloquence (I'm serious) but I'm only a frog.
>     I could not have written this better, and I am in full agreement
>     with everything Baldur said. With all my tech background, I wonder
>     where this WG is heading at and, worse, why... And the WG is voting
>     on that.
>     We're still in the "Deep concerns about the future of EPUB" that were,
>     after all the denials, apparently spot-on.
>     </Daniel>
Received on Friday, 9 February 2018 14:07:00 UTC

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