Distraction in Real Time


One of the things about necessity and the motherhood of invention is that such notions can be misogynistic.  Cramming for finals or writing a resarch paper on a last-chance all-nighter is what it is, but at some point the parenting metaphors invite questions of neglect.  Consider, for instance, the idea of displaying two blank spaces in HTML.  It can be done, but you must type or macro a particular markup.  And, well, eventually the marketplace did get around to certain aspects.
    For instance, if one authors their own style sheet, paragraph spacing and indenting can be established at the outset.  If not, simply line up four or five non-breaking space entities in a row.  It’s kind of inconvenient, to be certain, but there you go.
    The thing is that the industry never really found a profitable reason to settle the question.  No, really, consider the Modern Languages Association.  The information record we have created is so spotty that the MLA dropped URLs from the works cited criteria altogether; far too many websites used really long links―an invention of industrial necessity aiding the frameworks of proprietary systems increasing customer dependence―and rearranged their file trees, thus breaking hyperlink pathways, until the inclusion of actual link data in the works cited became a futile effort.
    Nor is that the whole of the effect.  Consider for a moment our comfort and familiarity with variable-width fonts like Arial, Georgia, or Times New Roman.  Because they are variable-width, two blank spaces disappear on the page.  Consider that after every full stop or question mark, in order to see a properly typed two spaces, I will need to trade out a period and two spaces for a period and two “&nbsp” entities.  MLA has given up the ghost; as so many research papers now use variable-width fonts, the guideline has switched to one blank space after a full stop.
    Consider, please, basic daily behavior.  Why do you change it?  There are plenty of reasons, and, yes, sloth, ignorance, and all sorts of stuff we don’t really like to regard about ourselves play their part.  But what about changing your behavior in order to accommodate other people?  And no, that is likely not what you’re thinking.
    Try this: In a time when people become unsettled because, for some reason, users are expected to change the way they swipe this or tap that on their mobile phones, the reason for these changes have nothing to do with necessity.  They do, however have everything to do with Apple or Google, or, hell, wasn’t there a recent dust-up about one or another dating app changing the way you dump the disdained?  You change your daily behavior for the sake of someone else’s business model.
    Just sayin’.
    Write the date with two digits instead of four?  There is, of course, some history in how such things come to be, but three quarters of a trillion dollars later, we staved off our self-inflicted Apocalypse.  Still, though, the basic inability of a computer to recognize two blank spaces in a row is an instructive consideration.  We have all manner of workaround, but for most end users none of these patchwork solutions actually work. It has never been worth the money to go back and work a solution into the basic framework.  That is to say, simply keying two blank spaces remains simply insufficient.
    One space after a full stop certainly isn’t the end of the world.  The stupid reasons we must necessarily undertake such changes, though, might well be. People often complain, or duck out with nod and wink, according to the pretense that something is good enough for government work. It actually seems more appropriate to say it’s good enough for the tech sector.

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