10.0725 Cartesian meditations

WILLARD MCCARTY (willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk)
Wed, 19 Feb 1997 22:19:43 +0000 (GMT)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 10, No. 725.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Information at http://www.princeton.edu/~mccarty/humanist/

[1] From: Francois Lachance <lachance@chass.utoronto.ca> (38)
Subject: De Cartes II

My thanks to Lou Burnard and John Unsworth for addressing the question
of "all-points addressability". Their replies have helped clarify the
question and some of the unstated assumptions that underly it.

I am reflecting on the problem at the level of authoring not browsing.
Part of this stems from my experience using SGML parsers to validate
HTML markup where, for example, a list of errors is sent back
indicating line number of the error, and in the case of the Kinder,
Gentler Validator the exact location in the source appears.

My question assumes a user who can read the underlying HTML markup
directly, go under the hood so to say.

About the images-text dichotomy. I am sorry if the mention of video
triggered the avatars of the text-encoding versus digital imaging
debate. It is precisely because video (which is here in Canada taken
to mean audio & visual elements) is complex with time code, sound
track(s) and image track(s) assembled in various combinations as
nested as the most complex written text that the desideratum of all
points accessibility which in video is an actuality was conceived as feasible
in hypertext. Indeed to many semioticians, text is a technical term
not exclusively limited to verbal artefacts.

Again, it was not at the level of the semantic or semiotic dimensions
of the artefact (or text) that the question of all points addressability was
addressed but very much at the level of the machine stored data file
which despite the fluidity and mutability of electronic texts has a
certain standard form evolved out of cross-language conventions such
as the line return.

Finally I agree with Lou Burnard that at present:

> if you want "all-points-addressability", the only reliable method
> is to mark-up explicitly the addressable components of your document. Use

But my question is directed to the future and finding a reliable
method of addressing specific spots in other people's hypertext
documents available on WWW without importuning every busy author with
a direct request to create a fragment identifier. I guess, by analogy,
what I am asking for is for us collectively to imagine more the
writing in some one else's "book" which bucks every preservation
instinct in my own bones as a writing to a spot: a bringing of other
readers to a place we deem worthy of rereading.