[rfc-i] Now tell me how to communicate this as effectively in plaintext

Joe Touch touch at isi.edu
Wed Apr 25 16:05:29 PDT 2012


Hi, Phillip,

On 4/23/2012 9:28 AM, Phillip Hallam-Baker wrote:
> I have been working on the attached document for several months. It
> describes a proposal to change the structure of PKI. Note that none of
> the other proposals referenced are described in RFC form either, nor
> do the authors have any intention of using that format.
>
> The subject matter is neither simple nor straightforward. The
> arguments are not straightforward either. PKI is a complicated subject
> because it deals with the real world and the real world is complex.
>
> While all the diagrams and illustrations are described in the text, it
> is much more likely that people will understand the diagrams than the
> text.
>
> Now while I could convert this into plaintext format I am not going
> to. I am going to make my argument in the format I think is going to
> be most effective for communication.
>
> I have the following questions:
>
> 1) Does anyone seriously want to argue that the document would be
> easier to interpret in plaintext format without any diagrams?

Since when does plaintext prevent diagrams? TCP did an entire state 
diagram - a lot more complex than anything in this doc - in ASCII.

> 2) Do people respect the fact that it would take me a great deal of
> time to write text that could come anywhere near as clear as the
> diagram?

That's done all the time for diagrams that are much more complex than these.

> 3) Does anyone imagine people would read the result?

If you're arguing that RFCs aren't interesting to read, sure. But nobody 
suggested publishing RFCs in a magazine either.

> 4) Would anyone insist on plaintext if they thought that people had a
> choice in the standards organization they participate in?

Moot point. There's no alter-IETF that uses SVG yet.

All standards organizations pick a format, and all have members that 
complain that the format is insufficient for a given problem. They don't 
typically create new standards organizations for that one reason.

Figure it this way - if you can't agree on a document format, then why 
bother agreeing on a protocol?

Joe


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