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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Microformats, Water Skis, Shark Tanks...

The way I swallowed some of the sillier parts of microformats dogma was to say to myself:
"The big-S semantic web is failing to gain traction. The microformats group is saying 'radically simplify and see what happens'. Having a background in Knowledge Representation, I know the problems they're going to hit with those simplifications, but maybe they'll take it the 20% (or 10%, or 5%) of the way forward so that the underlying ideas gain traction before they hit the inevitable wall"
So, we're maybe 2% of the way in, and the uf group hits the predicted problems with combining different formats. This is stuff worked out about 20 years ago, and there are some well understood solutions, but they conflict with microformats dogma (and, honestly, they do make things very slightly tougher for beginners in some ways.)

Now, I was hoping the self-appointed leadership would say something along these lines:
"Oh, look, our radical dogma has made things simpler but led us into a local maximum. Perhaps we should re-examine the dogma and see if there is a way forward that preserves the good things we've observed while avoiding the bad things"
Instead, in response to any questioning of orthodoxy, they're saying:
I find this sad. Doesn't meant microformats aren't worth continuing with, but it does suggest it's about time for the big-S semantic web to step up with a little guidance and maybe ramp up the publicity on "microformats all grown up" stuff like RDFa.

Maybe a little outreach at SXSWi? I'm skipping the official conference but heading down for BarCampAustinIII and some parties. In advance of that, I'd like to get together for a RDFa-outreach dinner here in Dallas sometime over the next week or so The topic's something along the lines of "learning some publicity lessons from microformats and is there anybody doing anything RDFa-related at south-by this year." Email me of leave a blog comment if you're interested.

You should follow me on twitter here.


Blogger Daniel said...

I'm in. Ping me on IM next time u c me.

2:14 PM  
Blogger bobdc said...

One bit of low-hanging fruit for the RDFa community would be to redo all of the canonical microformats examples in RDFa, with a message of "we can do all that and more."

Bob DuCharme

6:59 AM  

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