looking for patterns vs. dreaming up patterns (was Re: ecommerce was Re: [uf-discuss] Principles of Microformats?)

Tantek Ç elik tantek at cs.stanford.edu
Thu Dec 21 11:58:46 PST 2006

On 12/21/06 10:24 AM, "Benjamin West" <bewest at gmail.com> wrote:

> On 12/21/06, Tantek Çelik <tantek at cs.stanford.edu> wrote:
>> I'm not sure who originally wrote:
> I did.
>> Others skip the collecting examples (data) step and simply dream up patterns
>> based on their intuition (or "expertise") - perhaps that is what you mean by
>> "allowing myself to look for patterns".
> It was based on an IRC conversation,
> <http://rbach.priv.at/Microformats-IRC/2006-10-28#T222748>,
> <http://rbach.priv.at/Microformats-IRC/2006-11-15#T223713>.

Ah, thanks for the context Ben.  The quote makes more sense in that context,
but I still feel makes a statement that I wouldn't make.

>> That non-scientific technique has been tried in many (most) standards and
>> results more often than not in bloated overly complex (certainly not
>> "micro") standards.  There are exceptions, where an individual with
>> exceptional discipline and near obsession with simplicity makes something
>> small and elegant, but they are the exception, not the rule.
> I'm not using this hypothesis to synthesize new standards.

Agreed (from the IRC context).  The challenge is that others certainly do,
and I didn't want them to misinterpret your words accordingly.

> It's just
> something I've been thinking about, and am looking for evidence to
> test it.  It is as basic a question as why some technology seems to
> work and some doesn't.

It's an interesting hypothesis, but I believe what I was pointing out from
the IRC conversation is that you may wish to pursue more formal study in
those fields (anthropology/ethnology/psychology in particular) and refine
your hypotheses accordingly before spending time trying to prove or disprove

You may find that similar hypotheses may already be proven/disproven in the
formal fields and thus you won't have to duplicate the effort. If not, you
will likely be able to at least refine your hypothesis to build on existing

That's what I meant by being more scientific - working hard to seek out and
build on existing work rather than simply pursuing your own instincts and

>>  http://microformats.org/wiki/why-examples
> This is nice.



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