the term microformat and encouraging people to play (was Re:[uf-discuss] Comments from IBM/Lotus rep about Microformats)

S. Sriram ssriram at
Tue Dec 12 10:40:18 PST 2006

From: "Tantek Ç elik" <tantek at>
>> the term "microformat" is simply too attractive.
> It's interesting, because I couldn't have predicted this.  There was an 
> even
> earlier term "microcontent" which hinted at some of the same use cases,
> which however, unfortunately didn't have a precise definition (nor any
> definition really) that anyone used consistently (everyone used it to mean
> their pet thing), and thus because its meaning was never clear, its usage
> became quite diluted and worthless.
> One of the reasons that I explicitly set about documenting the 
> microformats
> principles and process very early on in the evolution of microformats was 
> to
> avoid what happened with "microcontent".  This isn't finished.
> We must continue to insist on a reasonably precise meaningful definition 
> or
> else the concept itself will become meaningless (or perhaps worse, 
> subverted
> by major vendors (though the names might be different this time around) as
> was attempted with HTML).

What you have is a 'classic branding problem' i.e. using the category name 
the brand name, which is why there are discussions about lower/upper case M v mf etc. A good book on the subject is Al Ries, Origin of Brands
where he outlines numerous examples to support the theory that people
think 'first' in 'need' second in 'categories' and than in brands which is 
why you need two names (category & brand)
(As in I'm thirsty (need), I want a beer(category), Give me a Bud 
(and all of this happens in the space of a nanosecond)

some good examples of categories/brands are:
'energy drink' - red bull
'search' - google
'books online' - amazon

some bad examples of categories/brands are: [1]
'video warehouse' - Videowarehouse'
(Q.Which is the closest video warehouse? -A. Blockbuster of course) (read pg 
'palm computers' - Palm
(I don't want to hear music on my laptop, but on a palmtop - so get an iPod)
(read pg 232, 233)

What ufs(.org) has done is bring about a new category i.e. microformats
into the collective mindspace, similar to Palm computers.

Without a brand name to go with the category microformats,
What will happen, is the Darwinian like splintering of categories into sub
categories as in iPod, Zune, BlackBerry etc.

[1] For those who don't have the book read pages 232/ 233 using Amazons's
search inside feature (keyword: palm computer) at

S. Sriram 

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