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A web site ("book") about "horses, printers, and railroads" will most likely not be thought of as an authority on any of these issues by any potential reader.
Cruddy code implies authentic grassroots origins
Terrific. Now all we have to do is get everyone to agree on what "tabular data" is.
The HTML table model allows authors to arrange data -- text, preformatted text, images, links, forms, form fields, other tables, etc. -- into rows and columns of cells... Tables should not be used purely as a means to layout document content as this may present problems when rendering to non-visual media.
The objective of this technique is to mark up the structure of the Web content using the appropriate semantic elements. In other words, the elements are used according to their meaning, not because of the way they appear visually.
Using the appropriate semantic elements will make sure the structure is available to the user agent. This involves explicitly indicating the role that different units have in understanding the meaning of the content. The nature of a piece of content as a paragraph, header, emphasized text, table, etc. can all be indicated in this way.