[rfc-i] Resetting this format debate a bit

Joe Touch touch at isi.edu
Sun Mar 25 18:18:52 PDT 2012

Regarding your suggestion that there are three threads here...

On 3/25/2012 11:00 AM, 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.

I've been confused by the need for tagged data in RFCs. The key 
information of note is already provided in a (generally separate) index 
- which can be, should be, and already is tagged (i.e., rfc-index).

Excepting title, date, stream, state, obsoletes, and author (all in 
rfc-index), I'm not clear that there are useful tags elsewhere in RFCs 
at all.

> 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.

I had thought these were both permitted (and the only non-ASCII exceptions).

> 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.

These are both extraordinarily ephemeral issues, and should be solved by 
having the RFC series periodically processed into a variety of 
commonly-useful formats for various reading devices. That's already done 
on the tools page and by various folk - e.g., .mobi and .epub.

Thus I don't think that #3 has anything to do with the discussion we're 


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