[uf-discuss] microformats for normal people, like my mum

Ben Ward lists at ben-ward.co.uk
Thu Jun 28 06:18:35 PDT 2007

On 27 Jun 2007, at 23:09, Thom Shannon wrote:
> I know this topic comes up a lot and we'd all like to see  
> Microformats change the lives of millions of ordinary internet  
> users, that's why we're all here!
> My friend just asked me an interesting question, is Microformats  
> the right name for it?

Sorry, but this discussion seems absurd to me.

Microformats is a good name for developers. It encompasses a large  
range of different, mostly discrete and often unrelated data formats.  
It has nothing at all to do with user-facing exposure of that data.

No-one is ever (read: should ever) create a web browser with a ‘Get  
Microformats’ button other than as a developer testing tool. But the  
idea that we need some other name with ‘Super’, ‘Hyper’ and ‘Smart’  
in the name is verging on the hilarious.

Here's what should happen:

Developers will use a microformat in their page to describe reviews,  
addresses or calendar appointments. User agents will then expose them  
as… reviews, addresses and calendar appointments.

I cannot for the life of me see why we are trying to abstract useful  
functionality at a user-end with a nonsensical name like ‘Smart Data’  
when ‘Address’, ‘Event’ and ‘Location’ have served the English  
language very well so far.

Finally, an all-encompassing term for all microformats going to be  
useless to end users. Apart from the aforementioned abstraction of  
what the data really is and really should be used for, microformats  
are so varied that a generic term will be meaningless. XOXO and Geo?  
Branding them ‘Hyper Smart Data Enabled’ isn't going to help an end  
user any more than ‘microformat’. Exposing functionality where useful  
is. And that functionality doesn't need a µf.org endorsed name; the  
functionality should be named as appropriate, not the data format.

To draw a parallel: We do not ‘consume HTML documents’, we ‘read web  
pages’. Consumers of microformats will not ‘consume Smart Data’ they  
will ‘add contacts to their address books’, ‘print address labels’,  
‘find other employees of this organisation’ and ‘show a map of this  
location’. I would strongly discourage any implementer from trying to  
dress up simple functionality with a catch-all term. It will be  
utterly confusing users with yet another hunk of IT jargon.



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