From: Gregg Reynolds (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Wed Jun 15 2005 - 12:29:31 CDT
Michael Everson wrote:
> At 10:54 -0500 2005-06-15, Gregg Reynolds wrote:
>> I view/edit multi-colored plain text all the time - computer code,
>> xml, etc. Using emacs. Also a web browser.
> When it is multi-coloured, it isn't plain text.
> Plain text is the interchanged information content. The characters we
> encode. The size and shape and slant and colour that you may put onto
> that text is essentially decorative, whatever use that decoration may be
> put to.
Let's try a little experiment. Open the attached plain text files,
first in a smart programmer's editor (emacs with font-lock-mode, vi,
etc.). Plain text? Then with a dumb text editor like Notepad. Now is
it plain text?
How many texts do we have? One, with two representations. The text is
plain text; the representations - like all visual representations - are
styled representations of plain text. A black, 10 point sans serif
monospaced representation is no more nor less a styled representation
than one with 20 different fonts and 10 different colors. But the text
itself is plaintext. To put it another way, there is no natural "plain"
representation of plaintext, just as there is no natural representation
of the number three.
The point being that we always have these two things - text and its
representation - and we don't have (or use, at least) precise
terminology for talking about them. It's misleading and confusing to
say that multicolored text is not plaintext when in fact we have no way
of inferring the form of the original coded message based solely on its
printf("This is plaintext!!");
printf("(unless you're looking at it with a smart editor)");
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