[microformats-discuss] Microformats and the Semantic Web

Danny Ayers danny.ayers at gmail.com
Mon Aug 8 10:06:24 PDT 2005

[Apologies for the delayed response - I'm suffering overactive mail filters ;-)]

On 7/19/05, Brian Suda <brian.suda at gmail.com> wrote:
> Since this is the Discussion list, i would like to pose this question
> to see what everyone else thinks. We are all interested in
> Microformats, so we are probably biased, but as a community we should
> open this discussion.
> Q: In what way do Microformats help advance the idea of the Semantic
> Web, or do they at all?

Whether or not they advance the idea is a good question, but in a very
real sense microformats are part of the Semantic Web. For a start, the
Semantic Web is layered on URIs, HTTP, XML and Unicode, the same basic
constituents of microformats. The next layer up of the cake [1] is the
Resource Description Framework. The explicit markup of microformats
describes resources, and the use of XHTML profiles means that any
microformat can potentially be unambiguously interpreted in the RDF
model (the most straightforward way being through XSLT). As far as a
suitably-equipped tool is concerned a microformat doc *is* RDF.

> I know there has been alot of talk about the lower-case semantic web
> and how you use semantic mark-up in microformats, but how, or does,
> this effect the BIG Semantic Web?
> And i guess in the discussion, we should describe what the "BIG SW"
> and "little sw" mean to each of us.
> I have my own opinions, but don't want to say now incase it leads the
> discussion too much.

For myself, the essence of the Semantic Web idea is having first class
data being made explicit, so the Web can act as a general-purpose
database as well as a document repository. As far as I can tell,
that's the same as the lower-case version. Where there may be a
difference is that the Semantic Web in the sense of the W3C initiative
is backed by a  logical formalism and Web-global data model (RDF).

See also: http://www.w3.org/2005/Talks/0308-semweb-em/


[1] http://www.w3.org/2001/09/06-ecdl/swlevels.gif



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