Mission Statement & Ethos

Ethos; - Philosophy and pornography; - Copyright, disclaimer, libel and slander

Aims and Objectives?

My intention here had been to poke a little fun at educational or business statements of purpose and intent - you know, the sort of thing that gathers dust on the top shelf, or wouldn't look out of place draped with the American flag.

Thing is, poking fun can make it very difficult to return attention to any serious purpose of your own. I hope the deliberately informal language of these pages will signal that they are not to be taken too seriously, but still allow that some ideas of value might be found amongst them.

My purpose is to raise questions and awareness about the ways in which web-pages might be used, whether in an educational or any other context, and suggest that the present clichés of 'standard' content (as on this home page), unnecessary graphics and irritating animations, and rigid layouts as if for a magazine page, can be very unhelpful in presenting information in the very flexible, timely and organised ways made possible by hypertext and the web.


Web pages can, perhaps should be, ethical. Cold showers may not be necessary, but instant entertainment is not the best way of using this valuable medium. Content or useful information should take precedence over empty style. It is still possible to read books without pictures, but I am not suggesting that running text is the best use of the medium either. One example of 'usefulness' might be being able to look up 'What's On' at the local cinema, perhaps with additional background information. A video or sound clip would add little of value to such information. On the other hand, a sound-track or other multi-media input might sometimes be 'useful' in upto the minute reporting of the news which could be available on the web round the clock in circumstances when broadcasting is not available.

A decision to include any content, picture, graphic, icon, sound file, video stream etc. should always be judged by asking 'what use is it?' Downloads of 200 kilobyte graphic files without warning are not amusing.

For the business user it is appropriate to ask what benefits any web-page might deliver to its intended audience or its 'publishers'. Why might someone (anyone, an existing customer, a potential customer, a competitor, a supplier, the general public) decide to look at 'our' web-pages - and do they get what they are entitled to expect? Failing to meet 'reasonable expectations' is not going to win any friends and animated 'US' mailboxes, which distract and irritate and may reduce a web browser's functionality, don't help anyone to recognise a postal or e-mail address.

But the same question can also be asked for an 'educational' or any other kind of web-site. What benefits and reasonable expectations for its intended or likely (perhaps unexpected) visitors does it deliver?

Philosophy and pornography

Any 'philosophy' goes. But ask whether what you're doing could conceivably upset anyone - and whether you want to do this. My preference would be for open standards (no 'Microsoft/Netscape only'); open access (stuff Line One's £15 a month); open (democratic) politics; open hearts and open minds - with minimal censorship. But this is 'dangerous talk' which will upset not a few. For further ideas see The Electronic Frontier Foundation and Online Privacy Resource Page.

As for pornography, the same 'fuss' has been made about books, film, TV and every other form of communication. I believe what is on the Internet should be 'controlled' in the same way as other published material and that despite the technical difficulties it is worth attempting to apply local laws and local standards whether these are those of the UK, USA, Germany, Singapore, Denmark or Iran (to name just a resonant few!). Material which I or others might find offensive is put before me on TV or at the Newsagents whether I like it or not. So far (in two years extensive use) I haven't seen or received anything offensive through the internet simply because I haven't sought to look for it.

Copyright, disclaimer, libel and slander

Libel and slander could be expensive and so could stealing intellectual property. Others' rights, including copyright, should be respected but it wouldn't be surprising if copyright and intellectual property became 'cheap' through the Net. Copying (to your computer) is unavoidable and even printing for your own use is unlikely to result in prosecution, but behaving reasonably and not 'pinching' or even re-using or re-selling material which others can claim to own is to be recommended. This is especially true for typefaces (fonts) and graphics files which are often copyright and should be assumed to be so unless clearly stated to the contrary.

Asserting your own copyright or intellectual property rights is also recommended where appropriate. (Trying to claim copyright for a particular sequence of HTML is probably unreasonable if the enclosed content and final display is clearly different. Please help yourself to any of my HTML you find useful - one of the best ways to learn it! But do give credit where it's due and don't use my 'content' unless quoting or with permission!).

'Disclaimers' are probably a good idea, especially since your pages may be read by 'law-crazy' Americans. (I hope libelling a nation is still permissible!).

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