Re: from EduPage...

Chris Lott (fncll@AURORA.ALASKA.EDU)
Tue, 25 Jun 1996 10:12:46 -0700

On Tue, 25 Jun 1996, Fanderclai Tari wrote:

> I'm not saying you shouldn't push a few envelopes if you've got the means.
> I'm just reminding us of how we might look from the other side.

This is an important aspect of the situation of electronic journals, etc.
Not only are there conflicts over standards of HTML to construct the
documents, but there is a central difference between traditional
publishing and the idea of HTML itself, in that WWW journals are made
from a language that is intended for standardized information provision
rather than niceties of layout. One would think that this would appeal to
purveyors of academic information, but this does not always seem to be the

Tari's comments about Kairos come from just such a conflict: the journal
wants layout niceties which are nonstandard and deprive many readers of
the benefit, because it is more worried about appearance than it probably
should be. The biggest proponents of the web are, not coincindentally,
generally those who have dedicated access on good computers. They (we/I)
tend to forget that there are many, MANY people out there using older,
slower equipment, even text based browsers-- particularly, as Tari points
out, in the humanities. Utilizing the standard to convey information
rather than trying to twist it for the sake of presentation would help
keep readers coming back and give some appearance of coherence and thought
behind web journals (it is hard for me to wade through pages full of
amateurish graphics, uses of headings and definitions to provide layouts
which don't reflect on my browser, poorly labeled hyperlinks, annoying
flashing paragraphs, etc., to determine if the content is worth the time
or not-- I will simply go to one that I know IS worth my time...)

The Internet provides much that traditional print can't, but there are
aspects of print that evolved over time for a reason. Layout and design
are one of them-- I know that if I see something about a new journal and
check it out, only to find that it utilizes a lot of poor html,
proprietary markups (blinking, marquees, etc), etc., I am not likely to
keep reading it, anymore than I would be a magazine which used small
cursive fonts for the maintext and laid everything out in true
singlespace. I am not saying that web layout is exactly the same as print
layout, only that there are web authoring concerns that are at once
aesthetic and much more thanb that.

Whether it is fair or not, web journals will often be judged and
considered or discarded according to these kinds of issues. It is not pure
luck that has dictated a certain look and feel to print journals across
the breadth of academic concerns--


Chris Lott