[rfc-i] Resetting this format debate a bit

James M. Polk jmpolk at cisco.com
Sun Mar 25 12:41:25 PDT 2012


Tim

IMO you're overreaching on #1 by making it seem as if it's all of #1, 
and nothing but all that's in #1.  In other words, the way you've 
phrased it, it's like you're saying:

    "drilling for oil now (by granting certain permits) is not going to help
     lower oil prices now, because the oil cannot get to the refineries for
     5-8 years from now - so that's a stupid idea to begin with. We need more
     alternative energy."

That was said 30+ years ago, and then again 20 years ago, then 15 
years ago, then nearly every day since 2008.

2008 was 4 years ago, and if those same grants were permitted then, 
we'd be a year away from realizing the oil production, and pump 
prices would have come down by now, with lower prices on the horizon 
(because of all this new product coming).

Apply that philosophy to our discussion on your #1. If we don't drill 
now, we're only putting off what we know we need to go after. That 
said, #1 as written, is not what I've been talking about with a lot 
of folks over the years, they simply want non-ASCII art, which is far 
far less than how #1 is written now. A *LOT* of folks would be happy 
to get past the ASCII art issue - which we all agree is a pain in the 
$%& to draw in, and can't represent what we want to draw in anything 
more than simple box diagrams and a few created arrows without tools.

I recommend the above become a #4, choice or the first item, with the 
existing #1 becoming the new #2.

James

BTW - regarding #3, since when does it take a "lot of disk space" to 
load what would be WORD for a Mac? A couple of hundred MBs is 
generally _nothing_ compared to the hundreds of GBs of disk space 
Macs come with. So, is that really an issue? Because it seems like 
posturing of someone who is offended by the mere mention of buying 
anything MS, for anything. That's at least how it reads to me.

At 01:00 PM 3/25/2012, Tim Bray wrote:
>I had a useful conversation offline with Dave Crocker which helped me
>to understand that there are at least two, probably three
>conversations, mixed up here.
>
>1. There are some people who want a grand glorious future in which
>RFCs can feature rich semantic markup to facilitate automated
>processing, typographical enhancements such as the use of
>color/bold/italic, and embedded multimedia.
>
>2. There are those who are  irritated about the limitations imposed by
>the ASCII character set, particularly while we're trying to define
>Internet protocols that need to carry international payloads, and
>credit contributors with non-ASCII names.
>
>3. There are those who are irritated because many RFCs are provided in
>a form that I can't print on a Mac without investing a chunk of money
>and lots of disk space on software (Dave tipped me off that you can
>print them properly using MS Word), and which I can't read easily on
>the mobile devices that travel around with me and I use for a large
>and growing proportion of all my interaction with media.
>
>Those are presented in increasing order of importance.  #1 is going to
>take a long time to get to, and my reading of the tea-leaves is that
>there is a high risk of a failure to reach consensus.  #2 is
>embarrassing and really indefensible, but doesn't seem, as a practical
>matter, to get in the way of designing Internet Protocols.  #3 is a
>BLEEDING NECK WOUND.  A high proportion of the people we *want* to be
>paying to IETF protocol specs now use Macs for everything and would
>sneer at the notion that they buy Word, and a high proortion of
>*everybody* are increasingly using mobile devices to consume all forms
>of media including the documents they read at work.
>
>I just don't think it's acceptable to go on ignoring problem #3.  -Tim
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