WWW html IS a User Interface.

Tue, 7 Jun 94 14:34:27 EDT


I have been following some of the discussion regarding non-complication
of HTML syntax, style sheets, navigability, etc. and I would like to
add to and emphasize what I feel are some important points while
deliberately ignoring the technical problems of implementation...

_/]Keeping something simple is still possible with expanded capability.
Computers become more complex all the time but simplicity of use should
always be the goal for engineers and designers creating new systems.
The goal, in my mind, is to keep stylistic specification as simple as
the current HTML syntax while providing increased capability.

_/]Stylistic conventions should be a part of HTML/HTTP for the following

>From Nick Arnett(nicka@mccmedia.com):

|I like to make the comparison of today's convergence of inexpensive
|computers and networks to the 15th century convergence of inexpensive
|printing and paper (see <a
|href="">Mendicant Sysops in
|CyberSpace</a> on my server for a related short essay). Illustrated
|manuscripts, prior to Gutenberg and cheap paper, were beautiful things,
|with carefully crafted letters, layout and images. They're still
|treasured. But as we know, a lot of that beauty was abandoned by early
|printing technologies. At the same time, things were added -- ....

I agree with the previous analogy. However, beauty is *cultural*.

Stylistic conventions are not merely *decoration*. They have highly
specific cultural *significance*. The Book of Kells is Celtic. You see
that just by looking at it. All of the ascii character set has specific
english language symbols developed from centuries old writing sytems.
Other languages are the same. Graphical and stylistic extensions of a
writing system are an innate part of the communication. Ascii characters
on a computer screen *are* a stylistic convention.

_/]More and more people are gaining access to the inexpensive information
technology of the present global net. As in the past, most just want to
use the *system* in the normal way, reading, looking, turning the page...
The www should not *burn bridges behind them* when it comes to all of
the stylistic conventions developed for printed information.

Global electronic *publishing* requires some method of stylistic
specification beyond the basic ascii/ebcdic character set. The WWW is,
by it's nature, *culturally/accessably diverse*. Style is an innate
part of that diversity, understanding, and communication.

_/]Navigability *is* of prime importance. The WWW is in a general sense a
complex *user interface*. Steps should be taken now to insure a www
system that accounts for cultural, access, and language diversity.

*Appearance is navigability* to members of a specific cultural community.

_/]Alastair Aitken(ZPALASTAIR@cluster.north-london.ac.uk) writes:

:: Nick Arnott is absolutely correct in identifying navigability as the
:: crucial issue in this arena. I see it in terms of threads. Instead of
:: information enclosed in quotes, packets or nuggets, the idea of a pathway
:: through a sea of data where the compass bearing is an interest or a study
:: is a Web model and perhaps the most succinct. Even as the thread is
:: followed documents along the way are old or new or updated seconds after a
:: copy is requested.

There are many methods thinking beings use to connect information. They
all use some sort of symbol system to communicate that to others. HTML/
HTTP should not constrain any of those methods if it is technologically
possible to allow them.

Thanks for your time.

Robert K. Foster
Analyst / Designer / Programmer
Mid-Michigan MRI, Inc., Lansing, MI, USA