re:Multi-Lingual Project Gutenberg (was: Unicode plain text)

From: Pierre Lewis (
Date: Tue May 27 1997 - 14:17:00 EDT

In message "re:Multi-Lingual Project Gutenberg (was: Unicode plain text)",
'' writes:

> > Es lebe plain text! (long live ~)
> I find this a tragic position. Before unicode, the common
> denominator for cross-platform data transfer was 7 bit ASCII.

First, don't take anything I write too literally. I make available most
of my project documentation in HTML. So I'm not religious about these
things. The above is not an exclusive statement. HTML serves a most
useful purpose and I'm not saying to ban it!

Second, Unicode is something more or less orthogonal to the notion of
plain text. So I don't really understand your comment above. Plain text
does not mean 7-bit ASCII. It could just as well mean UTF-8 Unicode.

Third, for all the great things that can be said for SGML, HTML, XML,
and <whatever>ML, it still remains that plain text is the most portable
format, the simplest to deal with (on all platforms), and the only one
that is likely to be legible in 30 years. For some things, it's still
the best solution.

> Plain text is simply not an option for most anyone serious about
> their documents.

That depends on the purpose. For example, I'm writing some biographical
notes on myself (how pretentious can one get :-)?) so my son will know
a bit about me should I leave early. I can't think of a better medium
for that than plain text (Latin 1 here). Surely not some WP that will
be so badly out of style by the time he gets to read the stuff (he
doesn't talk yet)...

And look at a typical novel. Plain text is all that's required to
capture it. Marketing glossies are another matter of course. And so is
most technical documentation.

Anyway, getting off topic again!

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