[uf-discuss] Authority (was: Text::Microformat - a uf parser for Perl)

Scott Reynen scott at randomchaos.com
Sat Apr 28 12:19:25 PDT 2007

On Apr 27, 2007, at 9:54 AM, Keith Grennan wrote:

>> I agree.  I really hope "microformat" won't turn into just another
>> term for "semantic HTML."  Clear communication is difficult enough
>> already without additional ambiguity.
> I think it already has.

Of the mentions of "microformats" I see outside this community, I  
think those that mean "semantic HTML" are probably around 20% and  
those that mean "semantic HTML standards developed through the  
microformats process" (i.e. what we generally mean around here) are  
closer to 80%.  So I'm still hopeful that we can retain a term that  
means the latter in common use.

> It's like Adobe trying to control how people use the word 'photoshop'.

I'm confident "Adobe Photoshop" will still work when I need a term to  
refer to that particular piece of software, regardless of how often I  
use "photoshop" as a more generic verb.  I'm not as confident  
"microformat" will still work when I need a term to refer to  
standards created through the microformats process.  So I think the  
latter is actually a problem, whereas the former is just trademark  
lawyers with too much time on their hands.

> You end up with single interest group that keeps repeating "That thing
> your refer to is not actually FooBar - these are the real FooBars over
> here".  But no one else cares, because people will use language to  
> suit
> their needs.

I completely agree that language can't be controlled, but as the  
community most actively using the term "microformat," I think we're  
in a good position to influence what people understand it to mean, if  
we care to try.

> As the popularity of the term microformat grows, you might have to  
> look
> for higher ground that's easier to defend.

We may.  Unfortunately there are enough people who interpret  
"microformat" to mean more than Semantic HTML, that even high ground  
would still leave a lot of room for confusion.

> Because really, who wants to
> spend their time and energy being language police?

Not me.  But if someone is using a term in a way that doesn't make  
sense to me, and I want to communicate with them, I don't see  
alternative to saying "This is what I understand 'microformat' to  
mean. You seem to be describing something different."  I can't  
prevent people from calling cats "dogs" either, but I'm certainly  
going to say something when it happens.


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