[uf-discuss] hCard and vCard

Joe Andrieu joe at andrieu.net
Thu Aug 3 13:02:47 PDT 2006

It looks like the powers-that-be have already come to a conclusion on
extending hCard. However, I'd like to point something out.

The discussed minimal-microformat
"come and hear <span class="vcard"><span class="fn">Ben 
 Barren</span></span> speak about..."

Does not actually say that "Ben Barren" is a /*person*/.

All it says is that "Ben Barren" is a /*named entity*/ or a particular type.
According to vCard, "Ben Barren" could be a person, company or organization.
And with the latest proposed addition of using hCard for places, "Ben
Barren" could also be a location.

If the "key here is to capture and represent the additional higher fidelity
semantics," why are we agreeing to lose fidelity with the proposed changes
to hCard? 

The original vCard definition makes sense for entities that you can contact,
i.e., send a message to. In other words, the kind of thing you might store
in, say, a contact database. That makes sense given the use case that
created vCards. "Places," however, are not necessarily contactable.
Extending hCard to places undoes quite a bit of quality work limiting the
semantics to be something specific and useful.

Frankly, I like the addition of hCard as naming places. It fits certain use
cases. It seems reasonable. It works. But when does it stop?  This gradual
transmogrification of one semantic into another is an insidious problem.  If
we are advocating dilution just barely one year after the creation of
microformats (and hCard), how much do you think it might change in 20 years?
And how will code written today survive those changes?  How long until an
hCard represents /any/ proper noun?  

This is slippery slope. The loose discussion of the /meaning/ behind the
microformat seems only to cloud the issue further.


Joe Andrieu
joe at andrieu.net
+1 (805) 705-8651

> -----Original Message-----
> From: microformats-discuss-bounces at microformats.org 
> [mailto:microformats-discuss-bounces at microformats.org] On 
> Behalf Of Tantek Ç elik
> Sent: Thursday, August 03, 2006 10:22 AM
> To: microformats-discuss
> Subject: Re: [uf-discuss] hCard and vCard
> On 8/3/06 5:07 AM, "Ben Buchanan" <wzqtptl02 at sneakemail.com> wrote:
> >> For example (and I've done this myself on numerous
> >> occasions) "come and hear <span class="vcard"><span class="fn">Ben 
> >> Barren</span></span> speak about..." is really not contact 
> >> information, but this is a very commonly cited example of how one 
> >> might use hCard (for example, for conference speakers).
> > 
> > Hmm, well the resulting vCard wouldn't actually be especially useful
> > :)
> >
> > If it at least associated the person with a URL it would create a 
> > useful chunk of information. But I guess it does change it 
> from "bit 
> > of text" to "someone's name" so.... yeah. But it is awfully 
> borderline
> > :)
> It is only minimally useful, in that it is still identifying 
> that "Ben Barren" is semantically a *person*.  Now what 
> applications may do with that semantic we don't necessarily 
> know.  I could easily imagine however that a smart browser 
> could notice any reference to a *person* on a page and 
> provide an optional linkage to that person in my local 
> address book for example.
> We don't know all the applications that this will enable.
> They key here is to capture and represent the additional 
> higher fidelity semantics.  Once you do so, there are 
> numerous uses that can be made, like the above, or for 
> example for better accessibility.
> All the same reasons you mark up your headings with <h1> etc. tags.
> >> I think many would argue for maintaining the 1:1 
> relationship between 
> >> the fields of vCard and the properties of hCard.
> Yes, that is not changing.
> >> It's what happens to
> >> the semantics of vCard that is at issue.
> > 
> > So basically the uf wouldn't change, we'd just change the 
> description 
> > to allow usages other than strictly "a person's contact details"? 
> > Seems fine.
> Correct.
> We actually discussed this a week ago or so, and I was 
> working on an iteration but lost track of it when my computer 
> had to be hard rebooted. :/
> >> "However, hCard maintains a 1:1 relationship with the fields of 
> >> vCard" Does this seem to capture current thinking and 
> practice with 
> >> hCard?
> > 
> > I wouldn't really want to see hCard extended beyond the fields of 
> > vCard, even though vCard has some crappy limitations.
> Agreed.  We are not adding new properties to hCard beyond 
> what is in vCard.
> > The 1:1 means
> > hCards can feed data to the surprisingly large number of 
> devices (and
> > software) that can use vCards... which was a major selling point 
> > getting into our corporate directory :)
> Precisely!  That compatibility is important.
> > But, I think it's fair enough to say that entities and 
> places can have 
> > a vCard - it doesn't just have to be a person.
> That's right.
> See the updated opening paragraph and let me know what you think:
>  http://microformats.org/wiki/hcard
> Thanks,
> Tantek
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