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RE: Semantics [was: Re: Well-formed (was: Re: F2F Proposed Resolutions Draft Updates)]

From: Mike Barta <mikba@microsoft.com>
Date: Mon, 20 Jun 2005 13:56:07 -0700
Message-ID: <7DF35A0B5F67E84B9095C21C8A9764180523318D@RED-MSG-33.redmond.corp.microsoft.com>
To: "Joe Clark" <joeclark@joeclark.org>, "WAI-GL" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>


I believe we all understand the desire you are expressing to have a
clear language here, but there are several of us who believe that the
term semantics is overloaded.  I submit that your assertion that it is
generally understood to mean 'meaning', or more precisely apprehension,
prediction, and meaning, by web standards folk is both true and

In fact semiotics means precisely that, but it has been supplanted by
the focus on the syntax and semantics of syntax within structured
languages, e.g. web content.  So while the term may seem to have a
concrete meaning for industry it may be misleading to policy makers in
that it is not actually the precise term.

Are we splitting hairs here? Most likely we are.  Rather than argue
about the possible multiplicity of parsed signifiers I would rather
focus on the issue at hand, i.e. how to convey clearly to a broad
audience that we are requiring 'valid' or 'validated' content with these
SC. Or that we are requiring that 'signified' information be conveyed in
a syntactic manner.

I agree with your point that well formed is non-sgml, that was my
mistake in adding it, and that we need to find text to convey what we
mean by this.  I also agree that _within standards community_ semantics
is used to mean meaning, means of connoting meaning, and even to
represent data models.  People in industry have little difficulty
understanding what is meant in context.  But we need to write this
document as unambiguously as possible and frankly 'semiotics are convey
through syntactic convention' may be precise but it is opaque to most
readers, as are the incantations using semantics.  We need plain
language that conveys our intent.

Since you do have a solid and clear idea of what is meant might you be
able to restate it without domain specific words ( for semantics has a
different meaning outside this domain, c.f. linguistics ) so that
general readers would understand what is required here?


p.s. top posting screed may be omitted I know the arguments and still
like it better thank you.

-----Original Message-----
From: w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org] On
Behalf Of Joe Clark
Sent: Sunday, June 19, 2005 8:24 AM
Subject: RE: Semantics [was: Re: Well-formed (was: Re: F2F Proposed
Resolutions Draft Updates)]

>> OK, so let me understand this: The Working Group is contemplating
>> issuing a vague and counterfactual guideline based on one person's
>> blog posting,
> There was not based on a Blog posting.

The sole source used for the vague and counterfactual guideline was one 
person's Web page. So OK, let's not call it a blog. Now try to disprove

> We don't use semantic because it is used to mean both document
semantics and
> verbal semantics.

That isn't a problem, though Gregg seems to think i tis.

>  Even the list of experts that you queried and posted to the maillist 
> say that both uses are legitimate.

Please go back and reread the submissions. In the context of Web 
development and markup, there was *no* dissension in understanding the 
Accessibility Initiative uses polysemous terms all the time.

Keep fighting this and you're going to become a laughingstock among the 
group of developers most committed to following WCAG. In fact, that's 
already happening.

> To avoid confusion we have tried to avoid using document semantics - 
> that is true.

It still uses the term "semantics," meaning it doesn't actually solve
claimed problem, meaning the claimed problem was false, incorrect, or a 

> All of the words removed or rejected were proposed by other members
> many words of the chairs have been not accepted.

Yeah, except those words were figments of the imagination, like
dictionary." I'm talking about a term in widespread use for the last
years that the Working Group is on some kind of crusade to discredit.

> Everyone has a hard time finding the right words.

(a) speak for yourself abd (b) that isn't what we're talking about, but
usual Gregg tries to recast the argument in ways he prefers.

Let's switch to all-caps again: EVERYBODY ELSE IN THE BUSINESS USES THE 
TERM "SEMANTICS." It's an embarrassment that the WCAG Working Group is 
even arguing about it. This is not a question of "finding the right 
words"; the right words have been long found and used. What some of you 
are having a hard time with is accepting outside reality. And that makes

you look foolish.

The rest of Gregg's post was another restatement of "In fact, the
Group is ruthlessly fair to everyone, and could you please be a bit
Joe?"-- the former of which is untrue and the latter of which is 


     Joe Clark | joeclark@joeclark.org
     Accessibility <http://joeclark.org/access/>
       --What's wrong with top-posting?
Received on Monday, 20 June 2005 20:56:12 UTC

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