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From: William Loughborough <love26@gorge.net>
Date: Fri, 13 Oct 2000 09:11:44 -0700
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-eo@w3.org
On another group I encountered a rather compelling statement about a 
subject we discuss a lot but don't do too much about: readability/usability 
of our documents. With some editing here's what Brian said:

I don't know what Australian idiots are like but ours (and I include myself 
here) cannot handle sentences like "RDF is based on a concrete formal model 
utilising directed graphs that elude to the semantics of resource 
description". I know precisely what each word means but the sentence? 
Forget it.

Is there no recognition amongst the W3C that we (employers) have to be able 
to find people who can use these developments; ie write code and such like. 
It is a complete waste of time academics constructing systems which only a 
small percentage of the brighter population can deal with and no surprise 
to me that it is now nearly six years since the meeting in Dublin, Ohio 
came up with the Dublin Core which you are still trying to get off the ground.

I am not stupid, I have worked in IT as a programmer, systems analyst, 
consultant etc since 1968 but I've just spent four days trying to get to 
grips with this technology and I am baffled. Do you honestly believe that 
anybody could write more than, say, three of four lines of XML without 
making an error? Do you believe that a normally intelligent person could 
then easily find and correct the error? Do you believe that a normal, sane 
person could have the first idea of what you are talking about from reading 
the material from the W3C?

Yours and your colleague's work is totally fixated with the almost 
religious purity of computing science and, as a result, I think you
are taking us back to the days of ASSEMBLER when programming was for the 
elite few because it was so damned difficult to do.

I can give you lots more samples like the sentence I quoted earlier.  "The 
Dublin Core Metadata Initiative is a cross-disciplinary
international effort to develop mechanisms for the discovery-oriented 
description of diverse resources in an electronic environment".

"The metadata ecology of the Internet will be partitioned into many modular 
niches, each targeted to particular functions or communities" Never mind 
the awful English, what does it MEAN?

One more for luck, and this is a beauty so I've quoted it in full.  "The 
great power of both XML and RDF is the ability for individual
content providing communities to declare their own modes of expression for 
the description of resources of importance to them. However, rather than 
having each community develop a comprehensive system describing all aspects 
of their resources, XML and RDF offer a more interoperable foundation 
whereby a single description may comprise elements drawn from any number of 
accessible recording practices".

It's almost as though the author was writing for a Social Sciences tract. 
We chaps in the real world need working, practical documents we can 
reliably and quickly understand.

Surely you can see that you are taking us down a path we cannot afford to 
travel? Programming, systems development, call it what you will, and 
whether it is for applications or text systems, must be open to the mass of 
people or we'll all go broke trying to pay the wages of the few people 
capable of producing something.

Come on, give us a break. Tell us a) what you mean, b) how we can use it 
and c) how we can set standards for project quality and management. We need 
simple, memorable syntax and constructions which can be taught to, and 
written by people of average intelligence and which can be easily and 
reliably checked, corrected and quality controlled.

 From the heart.

Brian E Smith
Managing Director

Received on Friday, 13 October 2000 12:13:54 UTC

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