W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > whatwg@whatwg.org > September 2006

[whatwg] Books and rhetoric Re: Modal Dialog Box support

From: Charles McCathieNevile <chaals@opera.com>
Date: Wed, 06 Sep 2006 21:54:05 +0200
Message-ID: <op.tfg2wfowwxe0ny@widsith.local>
On Wed, 06 Sep 2006 20:46:52 +0200, Matthew Raymond  
<mattraymond at earthlink.net> wrote:

> Charles McCathieNevile wrote:
>>>    So, what, we're supposed to order and read a book from Amazon.com in
>>> order to know what you're talking about?
>>
>> You could always go to a library. I believe the reference was offered as
>> something useful, should you be inclined to take the time.

Sorry if I was impolite. It was not my intention, but in any case I will  
make a bigger effort to be tactful.

> 1) Not everyone lives near a public library with a wide selection of
> computer science books.

Quite. Some people also have the luxury of a public library system that  
will if necessary ship books loaned from other libraries (librarians  
worked pretty hard to make systems like this work. t is a shame if people  
no longer realise what they have...).

> 2) Not everyone has the time and the gasoline (which is expensive these
> days) to go to the library every time someone references a book on a
> mailing list.

Naturally. The same as your point that not everyone can buy the book and  
read it.

> 3) Response to the email in question is delayed while the reader is
> hunting for a book.

Of course, if the discussion is based on the book to the extent that it is  
necessary to read it in order to take further part. (There are cases where  
that is justifiable, of course. Discussing the details of a piece of  
research without having read it is a bit pointless...)

>    James Graham was more tactful about this, and I suppose I could have
> myself been a little more tactful to the person who posted the
> Amazon.com link, but I want it to be clear that it's not acceptable for
> someone to have to be well read to participate in this mailing list. As
> such, your comment may be seen by some as elitist.

"something useful, should you be inclined to take the time" was meant to  
imply that it is not essential, but those who want to become ridiculously  
well-read? might find it interesting. My impression was that reading this  
book was not core to understanding the statement, just that it laid out  
what is presumably a similar argument in more detail.

Reductio ad absurdum (what you did, taking my argument to its logical  
extreme to show that it is of limited value) cuts both ways. There is no  
requirement that people know anything at all about the Web to participate  
on this list, although it would be a waste of almost everyone's time.

It strikes me as pretty obvious that being well read will increase the  
value of your contribution, and probably what you gain from this list as  
well. That does not mean you should read every book somone names, but nor  
should you expect people to restrict their statements to things that do  
not rely on any research that is only published in a form that requires  
payment (although good manners is, as James suggested, to at least  
summarise such information here for those who don't have a limitless  
book-buying budget and the spare time to sit and read every stray scrap  
that passes by).

I am quite content to be accused of saying that people who know more can  
better contribute. I do not at all subscribe to the idea that you must be  
ridiculously well-read? to participate, nor do you have to be so to have  
very valuable contributions to make. (Some people will criticise me  
whatever I say. Others will always agree and praise it. For the most part,  
neither of these groups are very interesting).

Cheers

Chaals

-- 
   Charles McCathieNevile, Opera Software: Standards Group
   hablo espa?ol  -  je parle fran?ais  -  jeg l?rer norsk
chaals at opera.com          Try Opera 9 now! http://opera.com
Received on Wednesday, 6 September 2006 12:54:05 UTC

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