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Proposed definition of content

From: Michael Cooper <michaelc@watchfire.com>
Date: Wed, 7 May 2003 17:39:11 -0400
Message-ID: <D9ABD8212AFB094C855045AD80FB40DD017E081D@1wfmail.watchfire.com>
To: "WAI GL (E-mail)" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
I had an action item for last week's meeting to propose a new definition of
"content", to get us out of the "content is rendered by a user agent and a
user agent renders content" loop. Here is a starting proposal. 

-- Begin definition of Content --

 <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office"

Subject matter or information that is processed, stored, or transmitted via
the Web. Content has the following properties:

*	Encoding: the format by which the computer stores, processes, or
transmits content. The encoding may affect the mechanics of making the
content accessible but does not, itself, carry accessibility implications.
Content on the Web is always encoded and thus requires a User Agent for
*	Media type: the human-perceivable format by which the content is
understood, e.g., text, images, audio, video, or animation. Transformation
into other media types may be possible but the content is understood to have
a single native media type. 
*	Interactivity: ability of the content to accept user input and
change in response.
*	Complexity: the difficulty for a human to perceive and understand
the content. Complex content may require, for instance, high education on
the content's topic, or the ability to read detailed charts.
*	Scope: the collection of elements that is considered to be a "unit"
of content. Content does not contain an absolute inherent scope but humans
often assign scope for convenience in a given context. A typical scope is a
"Web page", which is a representation of an HTML file and involves a single
user action to obtain. An emerging scope is the "Web application" which may
consist of numerous Web pages and user interactions but, because of
information or task similarities, are collectively considered to be a single
unit. Scope may be smaller than a single Web page in some contexts, e.g., if
a book chapter is presented in a single Web page, it may be preferable to
refer to sections of the chapter is discrete units.

-- End definition of Content --
With this definition I think I can propose responses to the "debatable"
items in the previous definition. It was debatable whether embedded
authoring or user agent components should be considered "content". I would
say for user agent components the answer is no. User agents simply enable
perception of content and aren't part of it. That said, I'm not sure user
agents can be embedded into content - instead, they can be requested.
Embedded authoring tool components, however, may be an intrinsic part of the
interactivity of content by permitting modification of content. So
html-based blogging tools could be considered to be part of the blog as a
whole and therefore part of its content. I would only consider authoring
tool components to be content if they are truly embedded, as in with HTML

Michael Cooper
Accessibility Project Manager
1 Hines Rd
Kanata, ON  K2K 3C7
+1 613 599 3888 x4019
http://bobby.watchfire.com/ <http://bobby.watchfire.com/>  
Received on Wednesday, 7 May 2003 17:39:25 UTC

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