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December 22, 2003 » 3:51 pm

Church of Purple: The IDs the Thing

Some interesting posts in the blogosphere today that are relevant to Purple Numbers. First, Seb Paquet pointed to Matt Mower‘s recent “Show Anchors” bookmarklet, which displays named anchors on an HTML page. It’s a good hack, and it will hopefully encourage people to do more fine-grained linking, which is one reason for Purple Numbers.    (NW)

Second, Bill Seitz referenced Bob Du Charme’s article earlier this year on the deprecation of the “name” attribute for the new (but optional) “id” attribute in HTML, and asked whether this is relevant to Purple Numbers. It’s very relevant. Widespread use of ID attributes will hopefully make people understand the value of stable IDs for addressing (as opposed to the relative addressing enabled by things like XPointer).    (NX)

Purple Numbers are about two things: Making people aware of fine-grained addressability, and assigning stable IDs to each of these chunks. The former is what most people see, but good UIs will eventually (hopefully) make this feature irrelevant. The latter is the truly important contribution.    (NY)

Church Of Purple    (NZ)

As an aside, earlier this month, what started as an innocent question about blogging on the Collaboration Collaboratory turned into a massive discussion about many things, including Purple Numbers. At one point, I casually threw out the term, “Church Of Purple,” which Chris Dent and I had often used in our private conversations. Woe was me.    (O0)

We have a lot of smart members and some great discussions. The truth, however, is that half of our members are crazy. Peter Jones embodies our group’s split personality, mixing in profound comments with witticisms that usually leave me shaking my head and holding my sides. Peter decided that all good churches require a T-shirt, hymn, and Bible, and he proposed a few candidates for the latter. Chris has already blogged Peter’s Church Of Purple hymn (a merciless parody of Jimmy Hendrix’s Purple Haze). Here’s Peter’s excerpt from the Book of Purple:    (O1)

And lo, Engelbart looked down upon the text and saw that there were unidentified paragraphs, and that the lack of identifiers was a pestilence upon the augmentation.    (O2)

Perhaps deciding that Peter wasn’t being silly enough, Chris concocted a logo for the Church Of Purple, which I have dutifully added to this blog.    (O3)

Out of the silliness emerged perhaps the best example for why we need Purple Numbers, courtesy of Matt Schneider (and also blogged by Chris). Matt recounted an encounter with his then 82-year old father:    (O4)

I handed him a Bible and Hawaii (he’s a big Michener fan). I asked him to quickly turn to paragraph 536 of Hawaii. He looked over the top of his glasses at me. I smiled and then asked him to turn to Psalm 23:4. Light went on.    (O5)

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