[rfc-i] Pagination requirements

Phillip Hallam-Baker hallam at gmail.com
Wed May 16 21:31:23 PDT 2012


Umm, I think that Martin is clearly wrong.

When I first saw the Web in 1992, Tim's documentation was not exactly
easy to follow. I worked out the structure of HTML pretty quickly from
the raw Web pages. Now admittedly I had seen a HTML page presented but
remember that the presentation was largely to Vt100 capabilities at
the time.

Linear B was deciphered with a tiny amount of text and without a Rosetta Stone.

There is more information in HTML right now than any other format. The
idea that we would lose the ability to decipher it without losing
rather more important capabilities, like the ability to read the
physical media the data is stored on is rather silly.

If we ever lost the ability to decipher RFCs they would have already
lost all significance as describing a continuing technology platform.
Any interest in them would be strictly archeological.


I think that the archeologists would be far more interested in the
information in the mailing lists and the thoughts of the developers
and all the information that has not been captured than the RFCs in
any case. They would want all the intermediate IDs and so on.

So raising the format issue seems to me to be an example of clutching
at straws rather than really seeking to meet the needs of future
scholars. I do not think the format issue to be a significant one at
all. We have plenty of folk who have done far more complex reverse
engineering efforts.

If it was a real question we could even test it. Lets take HTML text,
put it through a processor that changes the lexical syntax to
something else and then throw it at a bunch of first year comp sci
students doing parser theory as an exercise. I bet they will get it
without difficulty.

Plenty of folk have decoded the Word and Wordperfect document formats
without any clue as to the internal structure.


On Wed, May 16, 2012 at 11:36 AM, Iljitsch van Beijnum
<iljitsch at muada.com> wrote:
> On 16 mei 2012, at 09:36, Martin Rex <mrex at sap.com> wrote:
>
>> While I'm 100% positively certain that ASCII text will be easily
>> readable and comprehensible in 2000 years from now,  XML, HTML and Unicode
>> could easily require a Rosetta Stone.  Needless complexity.  Too much
>> concern about the exterior appearance, ignorance of internal values.
>
> Well, in 2000 years only scholars in ancient languages will understand English, and I would hope RFCs are moved to historic in less than 20 centuries.
>
> But what do you suggest instead? Although ASCII text is on no danger of becoming impossible to decode, it has become a lot harder to work with (see pagination discussion) and doesn't allow for metadata and markup that tools need but gets in the way of understanding the content if not hidden.
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