Logic Isn’t His Strong Suit

The reasons for publishing inaccuracy-laden tripe on the web are as varied as the lack-wits who write it. Some have a political agenda to push. Some are in it for the cash. Some just get a massive erection from pissing off rational people. But amongst these miscreants are the select few who have a need, a compulsion if you will, to pack as much idiocy, faulty logic and inaccuracy into one article as they possibly can. Among these select few, the grand master is Daniel Eran Dilger and his Cavalcade of Sock-Puppets.

I normally don’t seek out Dilger’s particular brand of fuckwittery, nor do I willingly read the drooling effluvia from AppleInsider (one of his usual haunts), but the people have spoken, so I am now compelled to beat him up for the mental diarrhea that he posted today at AppleInsider under the headline “Why Apple is betting on HTML 5: a web history.”

My usual modus operandi with this sort of article is to first address the central thesis of the piece, but, for the life of me I can’t figure exactly what in the seven hells Daniel is hoping to accomplish with this article. If there is a thesis, it’s beyond my ken. So, given that, let’s bust out The Gin and just start from the begining.

The lead, where most sane authors state their thesis, doesn’t help us much, but it does set us on our course for crazy-town right off the bat.

Despite making the vast majority of its money from hardware sales, Apple is investing heavily in shaping the future of software. One example of this pertains to HTML 5 and related web standards.

Apple is investing in the future of software! Well slap my ass and call me Sally! No shit you frothing tool, Apple invests heavily in software. It’s called the mother fucking operating system you lack-wit! And I am shocked, shocked I say, to discover that Apple, a company that develops products that consumers use to access the Internet, is interested in emerging internet standards. I would have thought that Apple would just say, “Fuck the web. Whatever Google and Microsoft come up with are cool by us.”

Daniel natters on for another paragraph about Apple’s various HTML powered offerings (you know, the things that might make Apple interested in the direction of the HTML standard) then attempts to provide the tension in the article.

Critics have complained that HTML 5 won’t be finalized until 2012, and that its completion might be irrelevant anyway because Microsoft is unlikely to ever support the new standard within Internet Explorer. Others wonder if the world really needs any changes to the language underlying the web.

Really? Who are these “critics?” Daniel, of course, can’t be bothered to cite any. Of course he also raises the hoary old boogeyman, “Microsoft may choose to not support Technology X, so we all may as well give up and pack it in.” Lastly, Daniel raises the specter that nameless “others” (could they be the Others from Lost, if so I wouldn’t worry, Richard Alpert is totally into the <canvas> tag) don’t think that HTML needs any new work. If HTML 4.0 was good enough for grandpa, it’s good enough for them.

Daniel then proceeds to spend the bulk of the next three pages, and forty-one fucking paragraphs to detail the history of the HTML standard. I’ll smack around some particularly asinine statements from this gods-forsaken info-dump shortly, but first I want to comment on the format itself.

This is something that infuriates me. Some writers, either suffering from the delusion that adding a crap-load of irrelevant information makes them seem technically astute, or in a psychotic attempt to out-write the inimitable John Siracusa, or desperate to up their word-count go into excruciating detail in an article ostensibly aimed at a non-expert audience. Don’t fucking do this. The entire forty-one paragraphs could have been summed up as:

Sir Tim Berners-Lee developed the initial HTML specification in 1989 and since then it has gone though numerous iterations. During this time browser support of the various HTML specifications has been inconsistent at best. The current draft specification is HTML 5.

Now that I have that off of my chest, let’s look at some choice bits of stupid from ol’ Danny-boy:

In order to draft HTML as a recommendation to the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) standards body in 1993, Berners-Lee needed to provide an example of an actual implementation of HTML. He cited the Mosiac browser being developed at the American NCSA, which had been funded by congressman Al Gore as a part of a broad effort to promote the development of high performance computing and communications by leveraging the power of market forces using strategic government investment.

This paragraph is actually fairly accurate from a historical standpoint, but I love the implication (via shoddy construction) that Al Gore personally funded the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. By the way, if you’re going to expand some acronyms, you do it for all of them, Danny manages to fuck this up. But back to poor old Al Gore, I guess he will never live down inventing the Internet, will he.

Moving on.

The completely open nature of HTML, backed by government investment in critical implementation work, enabled Berners-Lee’s new web to completely overturn the pockets of incompatible, proprietary Internet services that were in the process of dividing users up between the silos of AOL, CompuServe, GEnie, MSN, and similar offerings.

In the quiet words of the Virgin Mary, come again? Having worked in the Internet Service Provider industry at the exact time that AOL and the other “walled garden” providers were imploding, I can categorically state that this assertion is pure fiction. There were many factors that went into the demise of AOL and company, the existence of a fucking markup language was not one of them.

And we’re walking:

HTML’s public definition as an open standard allowed anyone to to set up a server with web page documents that any web browser on any platform could display. As the reality of this tremendous new potential began to sink in, Microsoft realized that the web would not just be a threat to its proprietary new MSN service, but would also be used by companies to reduce their dependance on Windows, allowing them to buy products from any vendor. This sparked its war with Netscape on the implementation side, but there would also be wars on the web standards side.

Where to fucking begin? First, HTML has fuck all with the ability for the average chump to set up a public web server; mainly because HTML is a gods damned markup language.HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) is the actual transport used to deliver HTML documents (amongst other things). To the extent that it was possible for an individual to set up a web server (hint, short of academia and commercial providers it wasn’t possible for many years) it was the open source Apache HTTP server that allowed it. HTML was, and always will be text with some funky tags. The rest of the babble about companies reducing their dependence on Microsoft is too incoherent to parse.

Next:

Netscape was primarily interested in rapidly creating a way to deliver web pages that could catch the attention of consumers, so the additions it began adding to HTML included tags the specified things like a background color for the page, or specific font faces for text. To academics, this inappropriately mixed presentation into a standard that ideally should only present descriptive semantics of how the document was organized.

This is just utter fiction. Danny-boy cites absolutely fucking nothing to back up these assertions.

Are we done yet, my head hurts:

Meanwhile, Netscape’s leadership in the browser market was challenged by Microsoft, which in 1995 licensed the original Mosiac code and began forking it off in a new direction in an effort to prevent the web from being defined by group of companies (primarily Netscape and Sun) that had a vested interest in breaking up Microsoft’s grip on the PC operating system market.

Fuck me, at the rate I’m guzzling the Tanqueray Rangpur, I may not make it through this one. While Microsoft, being Microsoft, certainly wanted control of the nascent web, to extrapolate that this was because Netscape had the slightest interest in affecting Microsoft’s so-called “grip” on the PC market is pure MacMac fantasy.

Ooh, speaking of MacMac fantasy:

It’s important to note that HTML 5 isn’t one big difficult leap like moving from Windows XP to Vista, or from IPv4 to IPv6.

Gods help me for defending Windows Vista, but an operating system upgrade isn’t fucking dark elven magic you ape. Also, Dilger displays a charming lack of understanding of what’s involved in moving from IPv4 to IPv6 (hint, for most people, not a fucking thing).

Please daddy, make the bad man stop writing, I won’t be noisy anymore:

Despite the potential threats to Office and Windows that HTML 5 delivers, Microsoft also sees the need to participate in HTML 5 because its browser share has now dipped to around 65%.

The sound you just heard was a vein in my head popping. Somehow Microsoft Office and Microsoft Windows are threatened by a fucking markup language! That makes as about as much sense as claiming that the orbit of Jupiter is threatened by a mouse fart. It’s not merely a matter of scale, but of massive orthogonality.

Finally, after three pages of weird, revisionist fantasy (including one of AppleInsider’s patented incomprehensible diagrams) Dilger comes to his finishing move. An act of illogical prowess so magnificent that I feel compelled to give it a name. Henceforth, the application of a conclusion that in no way shape or form follows from the proceeding arguments shall be known as, “The Dilger.”

Once Adobe realizes it can make more money selling authoring tools for HTML 5 than it can in catering to a dwindling group of Flash designers, its outlook is likely to change dramatically. That shift from plugin maintenance to standards-based tool creation will enable the company to rely upon a platform created by the community, largely Mozilla and WebKit, rather than trying to implement its Flash, Flash Lite, and AIR runtimes on different hardware platforms and within different browsers. Because clearly that isn’t working.

Let that one soak in. Revel in the crazy. Adobe will shit-can it’s multi-billion dollar investment in Flash to become an exclusive provider of HTML editors. It’s a good thing I’m as drunk as I am, or I might just stroke out.

There you have it kiddies, the people spoke, and it was done. Now, seeing as how I can’t feel my teeth, I’m going to have my stomach pumped.

toodles