[microformats-discuss] Microformats and the Semantic Web

Ryan King ryan at technorati.com
Thu Aug 11 09:10:39 PDT 2005

On Aug 11, 2005, at 8:15 AM, Danny Ayers wrote:

> On 8/11/05, Tantek Çelik <tantek at cs.stanford.edu> wrote:
>>> Things like fitness for purpose,
>> You never know what purposes people will use new technologies for,  
>> so this
>> is less important a factor than you might think.
> If it's not fit for the purpose, people are less likely adopt it.
> True, it's less of an issue with software (which is usually bendable)
> than hardware (which isn't).
>> What's more important is to model current behavior, whether you can
>> understand a "purpose" in that behavior or not.  The behavior  
>> exists, that's
>> all that matters for adoption.
> Maybe. Although I'd hate to see the word "innovation" go completely
> out of the developer's dictionary.

I don't think it has– we seek innovative solutions to existing  
problems, but innovation is a means to an end.

>>> utility,
>> Some utility is needed, but too much utility is often an encumbrance.
> Example?
>>> documentation,
>> That both helps and hurts.
>> There are plenty of W3C formats with *too much* documentation  
>> (e.g. lengthy
>> cryptic specs).  Too much documentation is a negative.
> Very good point.
>>> evangelism
>>> (including hype and FUD about alternatives),
>> That's of limited utility.  It only works if people get some  
>> actual results
>> quickly.  Otherwise it engenders a backlash.  This is happening  
>> with RDF.
>> One of the reasons that "microformats" and "lowercase semantic  
>> web" are
>> resonating with so many people so quickly is ironically thanks to  
>> how many
>> years and years RDF and the Uppercase "Semantic Web" have been  
>> hyped with
>> very little of *additional* utility to show for it (additional =  
>> very little
>> marginal utility above and beyond existing or simpler solutions),  
>> at least
>> on the public Web.
> Heh, yep, you're probably right there.
>>> and maybe just plain luck
>>> play big roles. Barely a day goes by without my looking at a PDF  
>>> doc,
>> I hardly ever look at PDF docs.
> Errrm...Postscript..?

Good luck, Tantek only uses plain test, (X)HTML, and wikis. :D

>>> Blog trackback format (RDF/XML hidden in XHTML comments) has to  
>>> be one
>>> of the clunkiest designs ever (no fault to Ben Trott, there  
>>> wasn't an
>>> obvious alternative at the time) yet seemingly within seconds of
>>> Movable Type supporting it, every blogging tool under the sun
>>> supported it.
>> Not true.  Few tools support TrackBack today, and the clunkiness  
>> of user
>> interface means it's not used except by a very select few.   
>> Mainstream media
>> that have tried implementing TrackBack have universally found it  
>> to be a
>> failure (e.g. CNET).
> Its use may be declining (thanks to spam, not the format) but the tool
> support is there - TypePad, WordPress, MSN Spaces, Radio, Drupal etc
> etc.
>>> The same can be said about the blogging and pingback
>>> APIs - truly ugly formats, with much simple alternatives (doc- 
>>> oriented
>>> XML over HTTP) yet with huge adoption.
>> WTF is "doc-oriented XML"?   Do you mean "generic XML"?  See  
>> recent blog
>> posts about that.
> I mean declarative message passing over HTTP via XML documents rather
> than procedural method calls tunnelled through XML formats over HTTP
> (irrespective of the particular format).
>>> Whereas RSS 1.0, with
>>> its more complex syntax, is supported virtually everywhere RSS  
>>> 2.0 is.
>> Also not true.  RSS 1.0 is largely a dead format.  We see a minor  
>> fraction
>> of RSS 1.0 feeds vs. the predominant RSS 2.0 format.
> I'm sorry, but speaking as a blogger I use a fairly popular open
> source tool, WordPress. It supports RSS 1.0. I don't think this is
> uncommon. Last time I looked the vast majority of aggregators
> supported RSS 1.0. I bet Technorati and most of the other services
> that read feeds also can read RSS 1.0. Actual use of RSS 1.0 may be in
> decline relative to RSS 2.0, but that does not negate the fact that it
> did achieve significant adoption despite having a more complicated
> syntax than RSS 2.0.

Tantek's point is that fewer people are publishing it. Of course,  
there's tool support, aggregator have to support all 100 syndication  
formats :-).


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