Great article, and one that applies far beyond academia. I'm a web designer and programmer and receive content for publication on website daily, usually in MSWord format. Approximately 10% of my job is converting MSWord to plaintext and then marking it up in HTML to fit, something which (frustratingly) my clients seem happier to pay for than to simply use notepad and very simple tags, nothing more complex than an HTML anchor.
There's a very clear split between people who understand HTML and are willing to separate content and style in their heads, and those who feel that the font is as important, if not more so, than the informational content of the document concerned. Some have even demanded to know why their website looks different on their iPhone and their Windows XP desktop. Showing them what it looks like on a text based browser like Lynx ("this is how Google sees your website") is usually a shock to them.
I think the solution to the problem is at the top of the editing window I'm typing into. There's a series of buttons that let me do thing like bold, italics and
That's basically MSWord, yes?
It's relatively simple to put together a browser based application that they can run locally, just like Word. It'll look a little different, but the difference is far less than asking them to learn a "programming language", which is how they think of HTML.
Basically, I'm suggesting a new word processing standard for academic publishing, based on existing, cross-platform and open source technology that uses a familiar GUI but outputs good, clean, easily edited HTML. Just what it was meant to be back in 1990 in fact.