[microformats-discuss] Microformats and the Semantic Web

Bud Gibson bud at thecommunityengine.com
Wed Aug 10 07:55:00 PDT 2005

My observation is that accessibility engenders adoption.

The nice thing about microformats is that, while they sacrifice a lot  
of representational power, they maintain the valuable core  
proposition of representing data in familiar markup constructs.   
People familiar with the standard html toolset look at that and say  
to themselves, "I can at least attempt it".  I'm not sure as many  
people say that when confronted with RDF.

In some not very precise way, I see microformats as being to RDF what  
CSS is to XSLT.  Microformats will be adequate for many, and some,  
having cut their teeth on microformats may move to the next level  
(which for both XSLT and RDF actually means being willing to adopt a  
whole new mindset).

On the microformats end, I'm convinced we need a hacks site to  
collect dev problems and solutions.  I'll have more on this idea later.


On Aug 10, 2005, at 6:35, Danny Ayers wrote:

> On 8/8/05, Tantek Çelik <tantek at cs.stanford.edu> wrote:
> One or two comments (in general I agree).
>> Needless to say, I take the former position, with the additional  
>> statement
>> that microformats are easier to both define, deploy, and *present* on
>> today's Web, thus, given equivalent semantics, it makes more sense to
>> publish microformatted data rather than RDF/XML on the Web.
> I would suggest that the appropriate format depends on a few factors -
> primarily the nature of the data. XHTML's basically a doc format for
> human-readable knowledge representation (after rendering), whereas
> RDF/XML is designed for RDF graphs/machine-readable knowledge
> representation (with or without rendering). Some of the more complex
> schemas/ontologies (e.g. the life sciences stuff) would be hellish to
> express as microformats, and in many cases the data wouldn't be of any
> real benefit presented directly to the user as XHTML (e.g. map data).
> Yet there is still huge potential benefit to publishing the stuff on
> the Web.
> There are other practical issues, for example the other day I wanted
> to get the whole of my blog data into a triplestore, so I serialised
> it as RSS 1.0 (RDF/XML), with the extras provided by FOAF Output and
> read that directly (ok, after a little cleaning) into the triplestore.
> At some point I'll expose the whole lot on the Web so anyone else can
> reuse it as they wish. An alternative might be to put the MySQL dumps
> online, but that would make reuse more difficult for anyone without
> MySQL. All this data (more or less) is already available online as
> HTML, but reuse would involve crawling and interpretation to somehow
> get the data back into a machine-processable form. And this stuff's in
> a relatively flat structure, if there was interlinking it'd be harder
> still.
>> What data model and data structures you use *inside* any particular
>> application should be determined by whatever is most efficient for  
>> you the
>> developer.  If for you, that's RDF that's fine, if that's C  
>> structs that's
>> fine, If that's a relational database, that's fine too.  No need  
>> to argue
>> about which *internal* representation is better, just use the one  
>> you think
>> will best help you get your job done.
> There I agree with the immediate point, but probably see the
> implications a little differently. One of the motivations behind the
> Semantic Web is to enable data sharing at a level above syntax. In
> other words using an *external* representation that applications can
> share. This is a fairly natural progression from the current Web,
> where URIs provide globally-shared names for resources. The specific
> serialization format is secondary -  whether it's RDF/XML or a
> microformat.
>> This focus on existing data, and thus the lowering / minimizing of  
>> barriers
>> to re-using it, IMHO is one of the key distinguishing principles of
>> microformats over the Semantic Web, both in theory (the microformat
>> principles), and in practice (the process for defining  
>> microformats, based
>> on existing *visible* data on *today's Web* and existing schemas both
>> implied and explicit).
> Hmm, ok, but I'd add that there's a lot of data tucked away in
> databases that could be exposed more easily than through templating to
>>> 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).
>> Which some folks see as a foundation, and others as a barrier.
> The latter folks are missing a couple of significant points. It
> doesn't necessarily cost anything to take advantage of the formalism.
> I haven't a clue about the operational semantics of Python, but I can
> still use "print 2+2". A Web-global data model means that someone can
> interop/reuse material without any additional agreement -
> "http://xmlns.com/foaf/0.1/name" will always mean the same thing,
> "name" might not.
>> Microformats essentially ask:
>> Can we do more (practical use and applications)
>> with less (logical formalism, formats, namespaces, etc.)?
> Sounds reasonable ;-)
> Cheers,
> Danny.
> -- 
> http://dannyayers.com
> _______________________________________________
> microformats-discuss mailing list
> microformats-discuss at microformats.org
> http://microformats.org/mailman/listinfo/microformats-discuss

More information about the microformats-discuss mailing list