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Liam Quin


Introduction: Umberto Eco

A quote from a talk given by Umberto Eco at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt.

We have three types of memory. The first one is organic, which is the memory made of flesh and blood and the one administrated by our brain.

Umberto Eco

[...] The second is mineral, and in this sense mankind has known two kinds of mineral memory:

Umberto Eco

[...] millennia ago, this was the memory represented by clay tablets and obelisks, pretty well known in this country, on which people carved their texts. However, this second type is also the electronic memory of today's computers, based upon silicon.

Umberto Eco

[...] We have also known another kind of memory, the vegetal one, the one represented by the first papyruses, again well known in this country, and then on books, made of paper.

Umberto Eco

Let me disregard the fact that at a certain moment the vellum of the first codices were of an organic origin, and the fact that the first paper was made with rugs and not with wood.

Umberto Eco

Let me speak for the sake of simplicity of vegetal memory in order to designate . . .

To designate books


Vegetal Memory

Whenever we present textual information to a human, we must format the text.

  1. Text can be separated from properties such as font, colour, size and position.
  2. Different people can create text and specify how it is to be formatted, e.g. an author and a publisher, a journalist and a magazine editor, a programmer and a Web site or user interface designer.
  3. The same text can be formatted in different ways
  4. The same format (e.g. a magazine layout) can be used for more than one text.
  5. We've got a gazillion years of experience in communicating with text and graphics both on paper (vegetal) and on hardware display devices like...

Presentation and Content

Lascaux cave painting

What is XSL?

Why Two parts (Vermont Farmer)


XSL-FO one-slide overview

Push-me Pull-you

You can't do everything

Some Examples


The W3C

Getting Involved

Questions and Ending

Images from and used by permission; other photos are by Liam Quin.