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Re: MIME/ascii/HTML annoyance etc....

David R Fordham wrote:

>Instead of you trying to get an email program
>which sends ASCII, might it not be just as good an
>idea for them to get an email program which
>can handle the rich, full, enhanced communications
>technologies of the 1990's?  


>Indents, pastel backgrounds, italics, bold, soft
>fonts -- these CONTRIBUTE to communication, convey
>more ideas and concepts than mere text, and are also
>pleasing to the eye and soul when used properly.
>It's like the difference between the tone of a 
>Morse Code signal and a voice.

I beg to disagree. Multiple type fonts and fancy formatting tend to 
subtract from the message. If you have something worth saying, the 
English language and the ASCII character set should suffice in getting 
it said. When people try to distract my attention with cartoons and 
other graphics, it sometimes becomes apparent that what they are 
saying is not all that important in the first place. The world is 
rapidly moving in the direction that what you have to say is not as
important as how you package your presentation, but I for one will 
hold out as long as I can for the old way. 

I grant you that graphical methods are sometimes better at 
transmitting information (circuit diagrams for one thing) but it seems 
like very few of the "enhanced" e-mail messages that come my way are 
using this capability for any legitimate purpose. Most of them are 
just trying to dazzle me with their brilliant HTML skills. I would 
prefer to be dazzled by their brilliant writing skills.

>It is a demonstrable fact that people who read
>plain text impute a negative meaning to a message
>five (5) times as often as those who use formatted
>text.  (That is, people who read a plain text
>message are five times as likely to perceive that
>the writer is hostile, critical, insulting, 
>obnoxious, hateful, discourteous, etc.. as a person
>reading the SAME EXACT message with a pastel background 
>and a softer font.  The ratio goes even higher if
>the writer is able to include graphics, such as
>cartoon characters.)

It has also been demonstrated (I can quote anonymous studies also) 
that when people switched from regular old ASCII text editors to the 
more complicated and expensive graphic-intensive text editors that 
the quality of their writing decreased along with their greater 
reliance on graphical gimmicks.

>I mean, why, look at it!  The ASCII smiley face   :-)
>was invented in response to a NEED that ASCII
>cannot easily fill, but which the other
>formatting methods can easily.  (BTW, how do you
>send a smiley face in CW?)

I'm not a CW guy but even I know what "HI" means in Morse code. Are we 
forgetting to teach the new hams about that? And the smiley face 
excels as a simple, elegant, low-tech way to convey that the previous 
statement was meant to be humorous.

>Why limit everyone to corn meal crackers because
>some people don't want to see steak, potatoes,
>peaches with cream, and pecan pie on their plate?

Why force everybody to pay for steak when some people are happy 
with crackers?

As far as I'm concerned, you can use your fancy e-mail capabilities 
for one-on-one messages with your friends as much as you want. But 
for a mailing list like Amsat-BB, with several THOUSAND subscribers 
in all parts of the world, you should be considerate of the fact that 
some of your readers are not as well equipped as you are. Amsat-BB
is read by people in countries where any form of internet access is 
expensive, and shell accounts may be all that they can use, with PPP 
access still unavailable or expensive. Even in the USA, many people 
still use such methods because it serves their needs and they would 
prefer to spend their money on more important things (like donations
to Amsat for example). 

In many cases the new fads are just attempts by various companies to 
force their software to become the new industry standard. They have no 
interest is designing stuff that works with a competitor's product on 
the other end since their ultimate goal is to force the guy on the 
other end to buy their product also. Imagine if Icom built radios that 
could only talk to other Icom's, and Kenwoods could only talk to other 
Kenwoods. As hams, we would not stand for such a thing. Why should we 
allow such nonsense on our internet communications channels? 

>"Amateur Radio Operators are active in modern
>communications methods."  Doug DeMaw

>Ham radio operators should put a little thought into the
>idea that we are COMMUNICATORS.  And satellite operators,
>of all people, should be interested in FOSTERING and
>PROMOTING modern communications methods, not discouraging
>modern communications methods and technologies.

We will foster and promote "modern" communications methods when it 
makes sense for us to do so, when it offers a demonstrable improvement 
over the old method. Moving satellite operations to the microwave 
bands and switching to digital modulation techniques will offer a real 
performance improvement over the old methods, and will make satellite 
operation available to more people in the future. Following the latest 
fads in e-mail and computer software does not offer the same improvement 
in the quality of communications, and forces people to buy expensive 
new computer hardware and software without any corresponding 
improvement in the quality of communications. 

Dan Schultz, N8FGV