A last missing link for interoperable representation

Martin J. Dürst via Unicode unicode at unicode.org
Sun Jan 13 02:20:36 CST 2019

On 2019/01/13 13:24, James Kass via Unicode wrote:
> Mark E. Shoulson wrote,
>  > This discussion has been very interesting, really.  I've heard what I
>  > thought were very good points and relevant arguments from both/all
>  > sides, and I confess to not being sure which I actually prefer.
> It's subjective, really.  It depends on how one views plain-text and 
> one's expectations for its future.  Should plain-text be progressive, 
> regressive, or stagnant?  Because those are really the only choices. And 
> opinions differ.

I'd say it should be conservative. As the meaning of that word (similar 
to others such as progressive and regressive) may be interpreted in 
various way, here's what I mean by that.

It should not take up and extend every little fad at the blink of an 
eye. It should wait to see what the real needs are, and what may be just 
a temporary fad. As the Mathematical style variants show, once 
characters are encoded, it's difficult to get people off using them, 
even in ways not intended.

Emoji have often been often cited in this thread. But there are some 
important observations:

1) Emoji were added to Unicode only after it turned out that they were
    widely used in Japanese character encodings, and dripping into
    Unicode-based systems in large numbers but without any clearly
    assigned code points. The Unicode Consortium didn't start encoding
    them because they thought emoji were cute or progressive or anything
    like that.

2) The Unicode Consortium is continuing to hold down the number of newly
    encoded emoji by using an approximate limit for each year and a
    strict process.

3) The Unicode Consortium is somewhat motivated to encode new emoji
    because of the publicity surrounding them. That publicity might
    subside sooner or later. It's difficult to imagine the same kind
    of publicity for italics and friends.

> Most of us involved with Unicode probably expect plain-text to be around 
> for quite a while.  The figure bandied about in the past on this list is 
> "a thousand years".  Only a society of mindless drones would cling to 
> the past for a millennium.  So, many of us probably figure that 
> strictures laid down now will be overridden as a matter of course, over 
> time.
> Unicode will probably be around for awhile, but the barrier between 
> plain- and rich-text has already morphed significantly in the relatively 
> short period of time it's been around.

Because whatever is encoded can't be "unencoded", it's clear that we can 
only move in one direction, and not back. But because we want Unicode to 
work for a long, long time, it's very important to be conservative.

> I became attracted to Unicode about twenty years ago.  Because Unicode 
> opened up entire /realms/ of new vistas relating to what could be done 
> with computer plain text.  I hope this trend continues.

I hope this trend only continues very slowly, if at all.

Regards,    Martin.

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