Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(April 1998)

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Subject: RE: HTML-enabled mailing lists
From: Kersti Anear <kanear @ prahran . wesley . vic . edu . au>
Date: Wed, 08 Apr 1998 13:46:48 +1000
To: List-Managers @ GreatCircle . COM
In-reply-to: <3 . 0 . 5 . 32 . 19980407190239 . 00ea9b90 @ armchair . mb . ca>
References: <116338B0A28AD1118E6400AA005B102B108583 @ pumba . ed-com . com>

My 2 cents too...

>>HTML starts to give you methods of better expressing yourself, one of the
>>biggest problems in electronic messaging.

When you can stop people from putting orange text on red backgrounds, I may
agree with you. At the moment, I'm making a lot of good money fixing up
problems with formatting from past web "designers"... and the work is not
drying up. I think we'll see more headaches here.

>I'll admit that enhanced text in email is inevitable, but in its present
>form, the problems outweigh the benefits.  If enough people like me reject
>the flawed form, maybe we'll see ways of handling enhanced text that don't
>consume so much bandwidth; that only use it when it's called for, and that
>don't exclude readers without the capability.

Here.. here..

>>It's a next step beyond the incredibly stupid utilization of punctuation for
>>expression. ;-)  If you were to see a HTML exchange between people, I think
>>that you would be rather surprised at the value.

That "stupid" punctuation has resulted in a culture. Entire cultures have
been built on stupidity - take the American Constitution for example. 8)
Now, look at that... a little smiley and you know that I mean nothing
harmful by that statement - just putting my tongue in my cheek... Try
getting that effect with formatted text...

>I have seen many.  In the hands of an experienced designer or typsetter, a
>well-crafted document is an effective communications tool.  In the hands of
>most people, I either see (a) documents with no enhancements at all, but
>they're still HTMLified; or (b) a ghastly mish-mash of fonts and colors.

If you need html - put up a web page!!! Or, even better, attach a word doc...

||First, just the included text operation. Some HTML mailers put a horizontal 
||bar down the left side and change the color/format of the reply text. It 
||makes it significantly easier to read than the > characters that get 
||so confusing when there have been five or six replies.

Nah, I think the lines are no better...

>>A choice of font (type, size, and color) can give a unique representation 
>>of a person, just like a voice does.

SO can a choice of smiley, choice of words...

>That's a frivolity, entirely unworthy of wasted bandwidth.

Yup... Ever heard of annonymity - it's quite nice at times.

>> Emphasis is so much easier with 
>>the ability to italicize or make characters bold. In longer messages, 
>>setting subject headings in larger text can ease reading.
>Good point.  Kudos to the mailers that can do this with tags JUST around
>the enhanced text, instead of HTMLifying the entire message.  Alas, this is
>probably not a standard.

This is about the only thing I'd support, but again, necessity has created
some very passable alternatives.

>>If black and white courier 12 point text is so great, then why are there no
>>more courier 12 point printers any more? I put my daisy wheel printer away
>>many years ago. 

Well, actually, there is a call for that sort of equipment in some
industries - carbon copies of invoices need those old printers...

>I'll bet black and white Courier 12 point text on a video display is more
>readable than almost any other font of the same size.  A monitor is NOT
>printed text.  What's highly readable on paper is not necessarily highly
>readable on screen.

This has been shown a number of times.

>>If you don't give a new technology a place to incubate, it will never grow, 
>>or at least it won't grow on your turf. Sure, you might think it is weed, 
>>but a worthless bread mold did change the path of modern medicine.

Hmm... that's the trouble, HTML in mail has only just in it's embryonic
state, it hasn't really been born yet, let alone had a chance at
incubation.. (you incubate small, sick, newborn human children too)

At this stage, the newely formed HTMl mail embryo is starting to grow with
some email clients. There is no standard yet, it hasn't started really
forming. Thus, to push it out to a mass group via a mailing list is bound
to cause problems.

Back to your medicine analogy - if you gave any old mold to people to
ingest, you'd quickly find that some got very sick. Instead, we trial
things in a closed, controlled environment before we make them readily


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