Re: Multimodal Style Sheets

David Seibert (
Tue, 5 Mar 1996 11:07:06 -0500 (EST)

On Mon, 4 Mar 1996, Raman T. V. wrote:

> Only caveat: from personal experience in implementing AsTeR and powerful ways
> of rendering rich information aurally, especially mathematics,
> I'm stil a bit sceptical about whether we can in fact avoid escaping into
> unimodal styles.
> The primary difficulty with audio is that once you start dealing with
> information that is more structured e.g. mathematics, rendering order in the
> aural domain is no longer defined by the left to right, up to down ordering of
> the visual presentation.

I think that the best answer to the problem above is to provide more
expressive markup language. If html mathematics markup tags express only
visual cues (e.g., superscript), then multimodal presentation will be a
difficult. However, if there are more meaningful tags (e.g., power or
suptype), multimodal presentation will be better, and authors can be
easily taught to use them instead.

In physics, for example, the major journals all accept marked-up papers
for publication, and after the initial adjustment most people are very
happy with that. The additional markup work eliminates a lot of tedious
proof-reading, because the printer now knows the intention of the author
much more accurately and thus makes many fewer mistakes. Thus, serious
authors are likely to make good use of richer markup if it is available
to them (and I doubt that many people would want to spend much time
reading mathematics, or any similarly rich text, from a non-serious author).

I agree with your skepticism, and I think that the best way to solve the
problem is by providing better multimodal document styles and more
expressive markup. I'm glad you liked the idea of multimodal style, and
I hope you'll contribute to it.



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