A challenge to the ASCII proponents.

Ben Finney bignose-hates-spam at and-zip-does-too.com.au
Tue Jul 22 03:46:12 CEST 2003


On Mon, 21 Jul 2003 10:51:32 +0100, Alan Kennedy wrote:
> Ben Finney wrote:
> > Expecting people to use a news reader that attempts to parse markup
> > and render the result, is like expecting people to use an email
> > reader that attempts to parse markup and render ther result.  Don't.
> 
> Solely because of technical inertia, and unwillingness to address the
> (perhaps excessive) complexity of our various communications layers,
> i.e. our own "Tower of 7-bit Babel", we're suppressing cultural
> diversity, for no technically valid reason.

Yes.  The solutions must involve a significant sociological element,
since that is a large part of the current situation.

> I personally don't have the slightest problem with reformulating NNTP
> and POP to use XML instead: In a way, I think it's almost inevitable,
> given how poor our existing "ascii" technologies are at dealing with
> i18n and l10n issues. Emails and usenet posts are all just documents
> after all.

I've no idea, though, why you keep banging on about XML for simple,
plain-text documents.  Substitute XML with UTF-8 in the above, and I
agree entirely.  This is a problem of character encodings, yet you keep
wanting to apply a heavy, structural markup solution.  That way lies
HTML/XML email, and it's totally unnecessary and unhelpful.

Email and NNTP are lightweight, freeform, unstructured document formats,
and they're good that way.  Nothing you've said so far has offered even
a pretence of a reason for abandoning freeform text formats for heavy,
markup-oriented formats.

Where character encoding is the problem, Unicode is the current best
solution.  But that in no way necessitates a markup format.

-- 
 \             "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the |
  `\                                   precipitate."  -- Steven Wright |
_o__)                                                                  |
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