Colin's Journal: A place for thoughts about politics, software, and daily life.
Until I moved to Canada I had never really considered the question of when someone should be allowed to vote, and when they shouldn’t. When you are a citizen of a country, and almost all of the people you know are also citizens the question of eligibility does not arise.
The issue is of particular importance in Latvia because 21% of Latvian residents are not citizens, and they are currently excluded from all elections including local elections. It seems clear to me that when nearly a quarter of the permanent residents in a country are dis-enfranchised in this way that something needs to change.
As a Brit in Canada I can’t vote in any Canadian election whether National or Provincial. If I “landed” (i.e. became a permanent resident) then I would still be excluded from voting, regardless of how long I lived here, unless I took up Canadian citizenship. Conversely I’m eligible to vote in the UK despite being out of the country for the last 3 years.
In the EU any EU Citizen is allowed to vote (even stand for office) at the local level if they are a resident. This logic hasn’t been extended to voting in national elections, and I doubt it will be any time soon.
With the increased mobility (particularly in Europe) of people between countries I would like to see the right to vote being tied to permanent residency. The latest EU directive on freedom of movement will bring an immediate right to permanent residency for EU citizens after 5 years in a member state. This seems to me like an appropriate length of time before someone is able to make an informed electoral choice in a country.
PubTal has had many changes made. It now supports XHTML, has a simpler configuration syntax, more content types, and better character set support.
Thanks to Florian Schulze for all of the patches and ideas!
Coding web pages is difficult. It has been difficult from the start of the web and has, in some respects, become harder as time has gone on and the technologies involved have grown. The preferred approach to making web site design easier used to be WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get), the idea being that Desktop Publishing was easy for anyone to do, so why shouldn’t web page publishing be the same way?
It is easy to denounce the WYSIWYG approach because of the poor quality HTML that it tends to generate, but this is to ignore it’s biggest flaw. The problem with using WYSIWYG design is not that the resulting code is a mess, but rather that the result of the design is a page.
The problem with building a web page is that at some point you will want to change the content of that page. Maybe you need to change your contact details that are at the bottom of the page. Maybe the site navigation bar down the side now needs another entry. Or it could simply be time to abandon the dark-purple on black colour scheme that looked so good when you first decided that you had something worth putting on the web.
Regardless of the motivation for wanting to update a web page there will certainly come a time when it needs to be done. If you have one page this isn’t a problem, if you have several hundred then it is a problem. Part of the solution is to separate content from design, to keep the HTML in one place so that changes can be made once. This solution has been known for a long time and yet it has not been a technique that many had access to.
The rise of blogging tools has brought this powerful technique to many, at least for journal style web pages such as this. Blogging tools have made the process of publishing on the web easy enough that almost any web reader can now become a web writer, should they choose to do so. There are still however many further improvements that can be made to make the task of publishing on the web easier. As Felix Salmon explains in today’s post, altering the templates of such blogging tools requires a significant technical ability. My own contribution to the ease of web publication, PubTal, certainly requires users to be able to code in HTML in order to generate their own templates.
I think the problem of web page template design can be solved by allowing users to work with components that fit together to form templates. Components can then be designed and built by those who know, or are willing to learn, the technologies behined them. Meanwhile users can mix-and-match components to form individual designs. Here’s an example of how this might work:
Using the scheme outlined here a GUI tool could be developed that allows for easy template design using the drag-n-drop of components. With components being distributed over the ‘net there would soon be a huge variety of template designs possible, without any of the problems of normal WYSIWYG design. The underlying technologies required to develop a system such as this are already in place, it’s just a matter of writing the tools to use them (no small task).
There are at least two other problems with the current crop of web publication tools that I’ve not written about yet: markup of the content, and the handling of non-journal style pages. That’ll have to wait for another day.
Email: colin at owlfish.com