Re: Pointer: The Superhighway Steamroller (fwd)

Willem Scholten (
Mon, 27 Jun 1994 10:12:58 -0400 (EDT)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 26 Jun 1994 08:24:31 -0400 (EDT)
>From: Willem Scholten <>
To: "Frederick G.M. Roeber" <>
Cc: Multiple recipients of list <>
Subject: Re: Pointer: The Superhighway Steamroller

First of I think Miachel Harts position on copyright is, well shall we say
rather obsurd, allthough other words come to mind..........

I think that one can have this debate about cost-effectiveness many ways,
if one looks at the cost of creating the perfect ASCI text and then just
adding basic markup, the markup portion time is nill compared to the
process of getting the real ASCII 100% correct. So I believe the cost
effectiveness argument is kind of lame..

But the much larger point is the not directly measurable value ofthe
converted text. The ASCI text files as produced by Gutenberg are
basically useless for any type of reasonable distribution. I like to
refer to them as the raw byte stream with the content hidden but none
desipherable without the key - the real document side by side.

There is a reason why we have a well established publishing record, which
dates way back to the Monks. A document becomes intelligent and readable
and a master in conveyng information( and I will argue Knowledge) when it
is not only containing propper text, but also a form of lay-out
(presentation) which crabs ones attention.

I would argue that reading Alice in Woderland as put in ASCI by the
Gutenberg project, versus layed out propper with mark-up (HTML SGML, PS
formatting whatever) conveys a much more powerfull message.

So as to how does one measure cost effectiveness?? I think that the
longterm societal benifits of propper layed out and formatted and
presented text well out weigh the extra cost required to put in minimum

At the same time I would argue allthough WWW is a good start we have still
much work to do in this area. As I for example publish kids poems, I like
to control for every one the exact laye out because I believe that the way
the child layed out the words, surrounding maybe a drawing conveyes in
itself a powerfull message and should be able to be published as that to
the net.

However I think that Mr Harts efforts, allthough maybe nobel, may have
been surpassed by better technology as well as the requirement to think
about text more as a message stream. It is time that he and other realize
that there is much more then just passing on a stream of characters without
a sensible ordering and presentation. I hope not to see the day when the
Library world has converted all its material to Mr Harts standards, god
help us in doing research.........

As to the technical aspects in his orginal posting, lets just say they are
plain wrong and as such I won't even discuss them.


( )
( Future InfoSystems Inc. )

P.S: Should I copyright this note? and how do I cite mr Harts paragraph
for every one if I can not cut and paste..... Actually I will argue that
his copyright will not hold up in court, but that is for another day.

On Sun, 26 Jun 1994, Frederick G.M. Roeber wrote:

> Michael Hart, Director of the Gutenberg Project, just posted an interesting
> article to bit.listserv.gutnberg (well, he sent it to his mailing list, which is
> gatewayed). In it, he argues basically that WWW isn't cost-effective whereas
> plain ascii on floppy disks is.
> The article is copyrighted and reposting is explicitly forbidden, but I can
> refer to it:
> news:GUTNBERG%94062522535895@VMD.CSO.UIUC.EDU