The anonymous missive appended below arrived in my reader by a
circuitous route, through a colleague connected with the TEI, without
retaining quite enough information in its mail header to enable one to
identify its ultimate source unambiguously. Although sent to me
individually, I think it may be of interest to readers of this list (as,
indeed, to all friends of freedom of thought) and so take the liberty of
posting it here. -CMSMcQ
An acquaintance of mine, Mr Ano Nym, knowing of my association with the
Text Encoding Initiative, sent me this note. I am passing it on for
perusal to the TEI editors.
I must commend the correspondent who drew attention to the dangerous
implications of the Text Encoding Initiative, the current effort to
formulate guidelines for the encoding and interchange of computer-readable
texts (Commentary, TLS, 17 April). As a long-time enemy of style manuals
and other efforts to restrict the free expression of thought, I welcome this
frank and courageous stand. The reaction is long over-due.
Consider, for example, books. Every time I open a book, what do I find? It
has a title page giving such insignificant details as the name of the author
and the publisher. Surely it is the thoughts that count? And the title page
is always at the beginning. Are there really any good reasons for this,
apart from mere convention? Examples can be multiplied. The index, if there
is one, is always at the back. Pages are numbered. Surely it would be much
more conducive to creative thought to let readers discover the order
themselves? Furthermore, why are the notes always placed at the bottom of
the page or inconspicuously after the body of the text - and in smaller type
at that! The notes in my writings contain some of my most precious thoughts.
Why then should I not be allowed to put them at the top of the page?
I believe there has been a long-standing conspiracy among book producers
to suppress the free expression of thought. The new development is even more
sinister, invoking as it does the powers of the computer.
We must oppose tyranny wherever it rears its ugly head. Let us hear no more
of these Text Enforcement Ideas. Let there be freedom, though lead it to