A last missing link for interoperable representation

Mark E. Shoulson via Unicode unicode at unicode.org
Mon Jan 14 19:48:45 CST 2019

On 1/14/19 4:21 PM, Asmus Freytag via Unicode wrote:
> On 1/14/2019 2:08 AM, Tex via Unicode wrote:
>> Perhaps the question should be put to twitter, messaging apps, 
>> text-to-voice vendors, and others whether it will be useful or not.
>> If the discussion continues I would like to see more of a 
>> cost/benefit analysis. Where is the harm? What will the benefit to 
>> user communities be?
> The "it does no harm" is never an argument "for" making a change. It's 
> something of a necessary, but not a sufficient condition, in other words.
> More to the point, if there were platforms (like social media) that 
> felt an urgent need to support styling without a markup language, and 
> could articulate that need in terms of a proposal, then we would have 
> something to discuss. (We might engage them in a discussion of the 
> advisability of supporting "markdown", for example).
> Short of that, I'm extremely leery of "leading" standardization; that 
> is, encoding things that "might" be used.
It is certainly true that Unicode should not be (and wasn't, before 
emoji) in the business of encoding things that "could be used", but 
rather, was for encoding things that *were* used.  This, naturally, 
poses a chicken-and-egg problem which has been complained about by 
several people in the past (including me).  Still, there are ways to 
show that things that haven't been encoded are still being "used", as 
people make shift to do what they can to use the script/notation, like 
using PUA or characters that aren't QUITE right, but close...  And in 
fairness, I'd have to say that the use of mathematical italics would 
count in that regard.  It's hard to dispute that there is a demand for 
it, just by looking at how people have been trying to do it!  So I'm 
starting to think this is not really "leading" standardization, but 
rather following up and, well, standardizing it, replacing ad-hoc 
attempts with a standard way to do things, just as Unicode is supposed 
to do.


> As for the abuse of math alphabetics. That's happening whether we like 
> it or not, but at this point represents playful experimentation by the 
> exuberant fringe of Unicode users and certainly doesn't need any 
> additional extensions.

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