[uf-discuss] Species microformat process

Andy Mabbett andy at pigsonthewing.org.uk
Wed Jan 31 07:39:19 PST 2007

In message
<8ad71be30701300934t2ee67302j787b289ac595ac43 at mail.gmail.com>, Benjamin
West <bewest at gmail.com> writes

>On 1/30/07, Charles Roper <charles.roper at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I'm very interested in the Species microformat, but the process seems
>> to have stalled and I just wanted to poll opinion here as to why that
>> might be. Is it due to a lack of demand?
>Charles, I don't know about demand, but I do know that many people
>have stepped up to participate in gathering research and analysis for

Virtually all of them have been taxonomists, drawn in especially to
discuss this issue.

> Many of them have also been driven away.

There's no way that you can substantiate that false assertion.

>To be honest, the
>use case for the species microformat is a little bit weak.

In what way do you think it could be weak? What information do you think
is lacking?

>It could
>be that if there is a lack of demand, it is due to the weak use case
>and the gap between the research and the proposal.

In what way do you feel there is a gap between the research and the
proposal? How do you fee that the two could be more closely linked?

>(The use case
>essentially describes a hyperlinking behaviour that is already present
>and used on many sites.)

Such as?

>This is just my own opinion though.
>> It seems that the successful
>> microformats have been developed, in the main, by web designers and
>> developers for web designers and developers. Could it be that web
>> designers and developers of the microformats community do not perceive
>> the value of a species microformat in the same way that they can see
>> the value of, say, hCard, hReview, XFN, etc. The more successful
>> microformats seem to be riding on the back of the "social web"
>> zeitgeist, with many (most?) being used in this kind of context. I
>> don't see species as being of particular interest to the bloggers and
>> the other social-networking, mashup-making, digerati of current times.
>> Is appealing to this demographic the key in getting a microformat
>> developed? I'd appreciate the view of people in this community.
>If I think I know what you mean here, I disagree a bit.  Who, what,
>when, how, where are all answered by these microformats.  They are
>extremely common, and are probably the first data types to be
>represented by any new technology.  For example: how old is the
>calendar compared to taxonomy?

I'll wager that people named plants and animals long before they ever
had a concept of hours or months, let alone started recording dates or
keeping diaries.

>hcard describes "who", xfn describes
>"how are they related", hcalendar describes "when".... Again, this is
>my own opinion, and I don't have any evidence.

>I do think the kind of path vcard
>took is qualitatively different than the one species is taking.

How so?

>> The vocabulary in the proposal isn't plucked out of
>> thin-air, though; it is taken from the taxonomic hierarchy as used by
>> biologists. It seems to be modelled on hCard in this respect, hence my
>> cowpaths question. My own feeling is that the current proposal is too
>> complex. The current usage patterns as far as I can see (in the
>> majority of cases) either have species names as plain text or
>> marked-up with simple <strong> tags, or <em> or <i>. However, I'm not
>> adverse to having a rich vocabulary of class names to call on should I
>> need them (which 9 times out of 10 I won't), as long as a species name
>> can still be marked-up very simply. This is similar to the way in
>> which hCard has a rich vocabulary, but can still be very simple.
>Charles, this is a great analysis.  This matches my observings, at
><http://microformats.org/wiki/species-examples-regrouped>.  I think
>the format would benefit greatly from taking a fresh look at the
>examples collected.  It look to me like there should be two pieces.
>One should be the way authors mention species in text, the other
>should be how authoritative sources represent the information about a
>species.  In any case, the first behaviour can be accomplished,
>perhaps entirely, by using tagging techniques.

I strongly disagree with that latter assertion; but please feel free to
convince me - and everyone else - with examples.

If you do, please bear in mind the mooted extension as a "record" or
"sighting" format for combining a species name, with a place, date and
individual's details (age, sex, etc.)

>Perhaps the in-depth
>use of unambiguous names can be used by a second format intended for
>publishers of the authoritative information.

Why would you want to differentiate between two types of publishing? How
would you decide where to draw the line?

I would also refer people, again to Note 4, on:


uFs have given us the first three missing items - and were now debating
the fourth.

Andy Mabbett

                        Welcome to the 28-day week!

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