[thelist] Site check: Staples.com

Shawn K. Quinn skquinn at speakeasy.net
Wed Sep 21 06:20:44 CDT 2005

On Wed, 2005-09-21 at 09:31 +0000, Kasimir K wrote:
> Shawn K. Quinn scribeva in 2005-09-21 05:02:
> > On Wed, 2005-09-21 at 10:08 +1000, Robert Gormley wrote:
> >>It's now inappropriate to publish any closed proprietary format material 
> >>on the web?
> > 
> > I would say for the majority of cases, it always has been.
> ...
> I think that when one makes this kind of statement one should emphasize 
> that it is NOT a fact, recommendation, specification or anything like 
> that - it is the writers own opinion having nothing to do with the Web 
> at large.

The Web at large has far more (attempts at publishing) HTML documents
than, say, Microsoft Word documents. In fact, I would say even PDFs
outnumber Microsoft Word documents.

Why is this? The specifications for how to write software to read an
HTML document or a PDF are free, open standards. The software I have
that tries to read Microsoft Word files, doesn't always get it right,
because in many cases programmers have had to guess at what Microsoft
means when this bit or byte is at this value. Any attempt to document
this format is a lost cause, because Microsoft will just change it all
around with the next version.

> > In general, locking up information in proprietary formats (including
> > binary executables specific to a given operating system and/or hardware)
> > runs counter to the goal of wide distribution of information, which is
> > what the Web is about.
> When somebody goes and tells with the sound of authority what the web 
> really is about - unless they are Tim Berners-Lee - well...
>  From "Architecture of the World Wide Web, Volume One", first sentence 
> of the introduction: [0]
> "The World Wide Web (WWW, or simply Web) is an information space in 
> which the items of interest, referred to as resources, are identified by 
> global identifiers called Uniform Resource Identifiers (URI)."
> That's what web is about, identifying resources. And about the format of 
> said resources: "Web architecture does not constrain which data formats 
> content providers can use."[1]

Oh, having the URI is great, but it's absolutely useless if your
software can't read what the URI points to. If it was all about the URI,
we wouldn't need HTML and standardized image formats like PNG and JPEG,
and could all just link to Microsoft Word documents and whatever truly
proprietary image formats there are (I don't think BMP quite qualifies,
but it too could be considered rather inappropriate for use on the Web
for size reasons if nothing else).

I really think you quoted way too little of Tim Berners-Lee out of
context in an attempt to advance your own agenda, and I don't think it

Shawn K. Quinn <skquinn at speakeasy.net>

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