Unsafe Assumptions

by Scot Hacker


Was recently looking at Tim Berners-Lee's homepage and found myself nodding in agreement with seemingly simple things he was saying about what's acceptable to mail to a stranger, and what is not. For example, he says it is acceptable to mail him documents, but not programs. Then he notes that MS Office documents sometimes contain programs. Bingo.




Interestingly, he apparently finds HTML e-mail acceptable, whereas I have been waging a lonely battle against it for a long time.




He also notes that when you send him Office documents and expect them to be read, you are in essence asking him to install proprietary software on whatever machine/OS he may be running at the time -- those of us who made it through the BeOS years know what an issue this is/was/can be. Yes, BeOS had an application capable of reading Word docs (a great one, in fact), but that's not the point. I should be able to devise my own OS in my basement and still be able to communicate with others via standard document formats.




It is unfair and wrong to assume that someone is running Windows, or has Office installed. Draw your own analogies to the assumption of many that an atheist should be unbothered by being required to pledge allegiance "under God."