[rfc-i] open issues: small and mobile screens

Andrew Sullivan ajs at anvilwalrusden.com
Thu May 31 11:10:49 PDT 2012

Dear colleagues,

This is another of my attempts to engage with particular issues the
RSE says are open.  In this case, it is, "Want the RFC to be suitable
for small screens/mobile devices."

I have been using small screens for almost as long as I've been using
computers.  In cramped spaces, like a subway or an airplane, I find
the ability to use a small screen to read something extremely
helpful.  In the case of airplanes, it's also cost-saving, since I
can't afford to replace my laptop every time some clown smashes the
seat-back towards me.  I am mostly able to do useful work with my
phone, for instance, but a notable exception to this is in reading and
commenting on Internet Drafts.  Since we have effectively adopted a
rule that I-Ds have to be formatted as RFCs, the upshot of this is
that I can't do reviews in cases where it might be convenient for me.
In the case of RFCs themselves, if I am in a discussion with a
customer or supporting someone talking to a customer, and I'm on the
go, it'd be extremely useful to me to be able to look up an RFC and
read it comfortably and easily on my mobile device.  This isn't
possible now, because the way the format works means that it doesn't
work well with small screens.

It also seems to me that it has been a standard practice for many
years not to rely too strongly on predetermined ideas of someone's
display properties when laying things out for online access.  This is
part of an overall form/content distinction that, I think, underpins
most of the flexibility we get today on the Web.  

I fail completely to understand the objection to this desire, such
that I'm incapable even of sketching what I understand to be the
counter-argument.  Perhaps one of the partisans can have a go?

Best regards,


Andrew Sullivan
ajs at anvilwalrusden.com

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