[linux-elitists] Take back the net! CSS for the user

Karsten M. Self kmself@ix.netcom.com
Sun Dec 9 01:21:10 PST 2001

on Sat, Dec 08, 2001 at 06:05:40AM -0000, Rusty Foster (rusty@kuro5hin.org) wrote:
> "Karsten M. Self" <kmself@ix.netcom.com> said:
> > 
> > Creativity need not either bludgeon or insult.
> I hear you. And for the most part, you know I agree with you. Other
> than FONT (which is going away soon, I promise!) K5 follows your
> principles better than most sites. So yeah, your points are valid, and
> I'm glad there's an option for people who want to overrule the
> pixel-pushers.
> However, I'm also glad there are people out there trying wacky stuff.
> While 90% of everything is crap, on the web as in the world, once in a
> while I hit some damn fine designs. 

And to be clear, my point (I've a friend who's a graphic artist lately
of Knight-Ridder, every one of our recent conversations has evolved to
an argument over Flash) is that the Web is a fundamentally malleable
medium.  After 600 years of movable type on fixed media, with
concomittant obsession over placement to the nearest point (witness
Knuth, who wrote a program to address the problem), we've got a
situation where you _can't dictate layout_.  Period.

The medium is fundamentally malleable.  Creative design, in my very
arrogant opinion, is that which achieves beauty, creativity, and
usability, while recognizing this aspect of the Web.  Careers and
eductional systems based on hardcopy layout are not going to adapt to
this, we've got yet another Kuhnian revolution going on here where the
old guard's simply going to have to be shown the door.  Some folks like
Nielsen _do_ get it, but have also been up to their eyebrows in the
possibilities of hypertext for fifteen years and more.

> I think what really nailed it was in the last email, the bit about
> HTML/CSS being utterly unable to cope with its actual mandate. Until
> some fixes this hideous kludge, and until the dinosaur browsers die
> off, we're still stuck with it. FWIW, I think the fault here
> ultimately lies with all the people who clung to the "structure not
> layout" mantra *far* after it was clear that HTML had to cope with
> layout, and would be forced to, whether it wanted to or not. How many
> years did we waste trying to "re-educate" every web designer rather
> than just fixing the language?

I'm going to give a little and take a little here.  There's something to
be said for giving the graphical Web more than its black-text-on-grey-
screen beginnings.  But broken sites in CSS are just as possible as with
HTML.  The difference is that there's a balance of power now.  Designers
can shove, but users can push back.  Which leaves us with a bit of a
power struggle over the rendering of any given page.

You want to dictate precise appearance of a page?  Get over it already.

You want to make creative use of the medium?  Power to you!

Karsten M. Self <kmself@ix.netcom.com>       http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
 What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?             Home of the brave
  http://gestalt-system.sourceforge.net/                   Land of the free
   Free Dmitry! Boycott Adobe! Repeal the DMCA! http://www.freesklyarov.org
Geek for Hire                     http://kmself.home.netcom.com/resume.html
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