From: Jukka K. Korpela (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Mon Aug 29 2005 - 02:29:58 CDT
On Mon, 29 Aug 2005, Philippe Verdy wrote:
> From: "Curtis Clark" <email@example.com>
>> On 2005-08-28 11:14, David Starner wrote:
>>>>> To me, the criterion has always been "Does it need to be exchanged
>>>>> electronically in plain text?"
>>>> That's a good and clear criterion.
>>> I don't think it's a terribly clear criterion.
>> The criterion itself is very clear, and "exchange", "electronic", and
>> "plain text" in this context are well-understood. As John Hudson pointed
>> out, it is the "need" that is slippery.
> True, notably his KEY criterion which is quite clear and decisive:
> "Technical symbols proper, e.g. for geometrical tolerancing, represent
> mathematical relationships and concepts that cannot be so easily and
> efficiently expressed in words."
I wouldn't say that even "exchange", "electronic" and "plain text" are
completely unambiguous. Actually I'd bet that when people say "electronic"
here they mean "digital", and "plain text" is effectively text that is
_interpreted_ as a sequence of characters "as such".
But indeed the "need" is perhaps the most problematic word here.
Surely there are images with content and meaning that cannot be easily, or
at all, expressed in words. Should we encode Mona Lisa as a character?
Plain text is as inherently limited mode of expression. It cannot contain
pictures, or sounds, or animations. Therefore, just because you need a
picture does not mean that it should be coded as a character. I think
the crucial question is whether a symbol is used (or would be used)
as an atom of running text, rather than as an escape from plain text.
Mathematical symbols, for example, are an established part of mathematical
texts, and quite different from drawings for example.
Company logos, trademarks, etc. are best regarded as symbols that are
excluded from being coded as characters due to a separate policy decision,
rather than as a logical consequence of general principles. A symbol that
consists of some word or abbreviation in a specific style, established as
a generally known symbol for a company or a product, cannot generally be
replaced by the word or abbreviation without losing information. In fact
it could be just the special style of a word that has been registered as a
trademark, leaving the word as such common property.
-- Jukka "Yucca" Korpela, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
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