Viewing mathematical content on the internet has long required a motivated consumer as well as a willing publisher. By this we mean that, until recently, there has been little native browser support for rendering mathematics. Displaying a page that contains mathematical expressions does not “just work” for most browsers. Anyone interested in viewing mathematical documents must take the initiative and modify the browser environment to achieve this end – hence you read papers like this one. At this time (June 2011), there are signs that that this situation is slowly improving.
In the past, the best chance of a “just works” solution for publishers of mathematical content was to render mathematical expressions to image files and publish these images interspersed among the page text. Needless to say, this is a tedious process that produces spotty results and large (read that slow to download) pages. However, it does produce readable, if not beautiful, content in any browser that can display inline images.
Nonetheless, there is something that seems ad hoc or inelegant about this solution. More fundamentally, substituting images for mathematical expressions eliminates the possibility of interpreting the mathematical content in a meaningful manner.