Lost in spaces

tom@begbick.law.cornell.edu (Thomas R. Bruce)
From: tom@begbick.law.cornell.edu (Thomas R. Bruce)
Message-id: <9306150221.AA04581@begbick.law.cornell.edu.law.cornell.edu>
Subject: Lost in spaces
To: www-talk@nxoc01.cern.ch
Date: Mon, 14 Jun 1993 22:21:28 -0400
X-Mailer: ELM [version 2.2 PL15]

I had hoped to stay right out of this one, but I think perhaps a dash
of practicality is in order.  One for which I will probably be
electronically lynched, but such are the risks.

The current debate over whitespace is a glaring example of the sort of
thing which has disadvantaged HTML vis a vis rougher (and readier)
non-standards like Gopher from the beginning.  I have been on the
stump for WWW a good bit lately amongst law schools, many of whom are
looking at putting up some kind of server capability for the first
time, and for whom _any_ move toward new technology is done at the
expense of a primary mission of low-level support for faculty and
student activity.  These people are not exactly grabbing pitons and
running out to look for a learning curve to scale, and there is a
general perception that hypertext is hard, it's much easier just to
dump an unformatted file into Gopher and it's almost as good.  I
happen not to agree with this, and am devoting a certain amount of
time and effort to weaning them from this attitude.  But say SGML in
anything above a soothing whisper and they run from the room.

I sure hope that none of them took my proselytizing at a conference in
Chicago last week seriously enough to subscribe to www-talk in 
some hope of finding out what the Web is about.  I suspect they would
be a mite bewildered by the religious warfare amongst the Ayatollahs
of Em Space.

I agree that bastardizing standards is a rotten idea and in
the long run complicates implementors' lives a little, maybe.  Just
maybe. But something as inherently counterintuitive as taking all
control over whitespace away from an author -- or allowing them to
retain it by creating a tagset the size of the Manhattan phone book --
sure isn't going to put a lot of docs on the Web very quickly,
whatever it may do for the purity of the standard.

Uncharacteristically difficult tonight,

|  Thomas R. Bruce                   tom@law.mail.cornell.edu |
|  Research Associate                                         |
|  Cornell Law School                     Voice: 607-255-1221 |
|  Myron Taylor Hall                        FAX: 607-255-7193 |
|  Ithaca, NY 14853                                           |