From: Frank da Cruz (email@example.com)
Date: Mon Jun 30 2008 - 08:24:30 CDT
Sun, 29 Jun 2008 22:34:48 -0400 "David Starner" <firstname.lastname@example.org>:
> On Sun, Jun 29, 2008 at 6:59 PM, Ondrej Certik <email@example.com> wrote:
> > I should note that some people actually prefer the terminal to
> > anything else. For example me. :) So it's not some temporary solution
> > to overcome the time until all applications can show TeX like markup.
> But the terminal is not remotely a plain text application. It already
> handles a wide variety of formatting, like bold and italics, and
> there's absolutely no reason you couldn't add subscript and
> superscript, or even full Tex-like markup. Extending plain text is
> frequently not the right way to attack a problem.
We seem to forget that plain text is the only sustainable way to
communicate and record language electronically. Rich text formats come and
go with dizzying speed, leaving mountains of laboriously crafted documents
stranded, soon to be forgotten as the effort of deciphering their quaint
outmoded formats becomes less convenient and increasingly costly. What
really matters in a document, and what makes it worth saving, is its
content, not its form.
Before typesetting fell into the hands of every single computer user, it was
an art practiced by professionals and employed in the production of books
and periodicals, wedding invitations, and the like. It never occurred to
anybody to use it for everyday tasks such as correspondence, office memos,
and appointment calenders.
Nor is it needed for email, a fact which is evident on this mailing list,
where we stick with plain text because we know that everybody can read it
not only at the time of receipt (leaving aside the question of character
encoding, which is another matter), but years and decades and centuries
later in the archives.
That's why we should not be so quick to turn up our noses at plain text,
and why we should not be so fast to disparage something like ASCII that has
worked admirably for 40+ years -- ugly apostrophe, doublequotes and all.
It's simple, it matches what is on the keyboard, it's durable. Unicode
should be the new ASCII, the ASCII for the ages: a way of recording text in
any and all languages that does not require markup or rendering engines. A
character set that is as much at home on a terminal as on a Web page or a
Word document, because Word and the Web will pass, plain text will last as
long as Unicode itself.
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