Craig Morgan Teicher is the latest to complain that poetry has lousy “formatting” in E-books.

E-books do not contain “formatting.” As they are miniature Web sites, what they contain are structured markup and presentational instructions, i.e., HTML and CSS. One cannot “format” an E-book; this isn’t MS Word, and we are not dragging a cursor through a line of text and hitting a little box with a B in it.

Josh Tallent’s code sample is, predictably, invalid (you can’t run STYLE on top of elements in BODY), though that is merely an error of excerpting; the ePub file is valid. Now, this also isn’t the way I’d do it, but I can’t say it’s actually wrong. Nonetheless, Teicher recapitulates the tendency of delicate artistique types to freak out at the sight of any form of markup: He dismisses Tallent’s tiny sample as being “swamped in code.” (It uses P and some classnames. Clearly this guy has never seen real tag soup.)

Even somebody who wears a beret to the indie coffeeshop to scratch despondent musings in his Moleskine can be taught structural markup. Teicher’s attitude of “It’s Greek to me!” isn’t helping, is it?

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2010.10.18 15:33. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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