Re: HTML5, Phones, and Tables
For me, the biggest loss is browsing tabular data. I don't mean a large spreadsheet. I mean a matrix of options where some things can be combined, and others not. So this is a 3 dimensional problem... Say, Option Categories, Option Instances (and descriptions), Instances that cross categories. There's a lot of information in there. It's useful to know the 2 basic dimensions -- category vs instance. It's also quite useful to see when an instance crosses categories. This tells you more than what the specific options are. It tells you about the domain itself... How do the options play out in this domain? People want and use that information. If we ditch tables, how do we intend to give it to them? (And please, let's recognize the difference between information and data... Tables can present more than just data.)
From the user perspective there is a solution, and most of us have it available:
On your phone you find the general thing you want. It's material in a table, as you peek at bits of it you are inspired to further action. You go to your desktop computer, look up the same web page, and PRINT OUT the tabular material that you cannot see properly on the phone. Perhaps the material is not really in tabular form, but then you can either create (and print) the needed table, or you can try to find some website that presents similar information in a better form.
Once you have the table printed out, you can use a hand-held stylus, sometimes called a "PENCIL", to make additional marks on the table for added clarity. Attempting this sort of activity on a cell phone is very frustrating, especially when you get an incoming call as you try to mark up the screen with a grease pen or something.
Our task as writers is to provide readers with a pathway to the needed information. The cell phone or even the tablet can be insufficient. How should someone writing about the artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder present examples of his notoriously complex works? Can they be viewed on a smartphone? The medium itself is somewhere between barely usable and hopeless. It's the incorrect tool. I could compare to the task of trying to clean out our horse's stall with a teaspoon.
Those with long memories may remember "Great Square Inches in Art," a parody published in Saturday Review in 1963 and read on radio stations WCLV (Cleveland), WCRB (Boston), and WFMT (Chicago) around 1970 and 1980. I had planned to provide a link to the magnificent reading by Robert Conrad of WCLV, but could not find it. Instead, I am going to attempt to put a partial transcription into a subsequent posting.
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- Re: HTML5, Phones, and Tables, Peter Neilson
RE: HTML5, Phones, and Tables: From: Chris Despopoulos
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