Building open textual content on HTML

The Web is by far the most successful medium in history for the open publishing and sharing of content. Focusing efforts to promote and enable open content on the Web first and foremost (rather than say, proprietary data warehouses and corporate databases) thus has the greatest enabling effect for open content in general.

Textual content on the Web is dominated by HTML (including XHTML of course) due to its broad reach and ease of authorship. The more we are able to use HTML as the common carrier of higher fidelity chunks of information, the more we empower and enrich the publishing and sharing of textual content.

Thus microformats are developed in line with “plain old semantic HTML” () practices and principles, that is, as valid semantic extensions to HTML. Semantic HTML by itself enables sharing open content with headings, paragraphs, and lists, etc. Microformats build upon that foundation, rather than reinventing (i.e. reuses HTML for lists and nested lists for outlines, rather than inventing new tags or vocabulary), and extending only for commonly published semantics beyond HTML, such as , , , , etc.

These extensions can be used to publish documents containing just one type of information for consumption by domain-specific applications (e.g. a contact list for address books, or an event list for calendaring tools), or many types intermixed and nested, embedded in a larger document that ties them all together with meaningful context such as a resume, meaning that would be lost were each type of data isolated, removed from its context, and published in its own special-purpose format silo.

Whether simple collections, or compound documents, by building on HTML, all such uses work well not only on their own, but embedded and mixed with existing web content, in a way well understood by web authors, browsers and search engines alike, in stark contrast to . Finally, it is this broader reach, to existing content, authors, applications, search services, and a variety of devices, that makes textual content built on HTML even more open from a practical perspective.

2 Responses to “Building open textual content on HTML”

  1. les microformateurs » Tantek Çelik : Construire du contenu textuel ouvert sur le HTML :

    [...] en cours. Source – Seul le lien original fait référence. Vous pouvez aider à raffiner le contenu en éditant le code posé sur la page-miroir de mon wiki [...]

    January 6th, 2008 at 11:58 am

  2. Ilya Radchenko :

    Man I love this little thing called HTML :D It’s so useful, and comes in handy. I wish the web would take more advantage of it. If only every page on the web was perfect.. oh well, at least we can strive towards something.

    December 2nd, 2008 at 8:09 pm