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

Ben Ward lists at ben-ward.co.uk
Thu Jun 28 07:15:28 PDT 2007

On 28 Jun 2007, at 14:40, Thom Shannon wrote:
> I get your point, but as Alex pointed out people are interested in  
> this microformats thing but dont want to call it that, journos are  
> refusing to talk about it because "the term 'microformats' would  
> only appeal to developers, and not the average reader"

But it is impossible to have a meaningful or descriptive name that  
catches all microformats, let alone to an ‘average reader’. I'm also  
not sure which subset of journalists wish to write articles about the  
data formats themselves, but whose audience would balk at a reference  
to microformats.org.

Anyone writing for the average user would surely be writing in the  
context of browser functionality (as and when it ships: namely  
Firefox 3). And when referencing the functionality of those features,  
it makes most sense to use the terms ‘address’, ‘location’, ‘map’,  
‘event’, ‘appointment’, ‘contact’ or ‘business card’ and other such  
words. That's all microformats are to end users. We provide a  
standardised, digital form of those physical-world concepts. A  
journalist could write ‘Firefox 3 allows you to interact with  
business cards and events in web pages like never before, bridging  
the gap between the pages you read and other applications’. That is  
surely a gazillion times better than trying to encourage ‘Firefox 3  
ships with support for Hyper Data, which allows web pages to…’.  Such  
a generic and meaningless term not only adds nothing, but distracts  
from the real benefits of Microformat deployment (by which I mean all  
the name suggestions in this thread, not just my facetious overuse of  
the word ‘hyper’).

> We need a way to get across to people that content can be lifted  
> out of pages and used in useful ways, when those pages support it.  
> And people need to call it something. Maybe it should just be  
> "Reusable Information".

For the people who will be putting the data in the pages — developers  
— we have names. Yes, microformats and h* is all very techie, but  
that's perfectly acceptable for developers.

End-users don't need to know anything at all about _how_ or _why_  
their new browser functionality works, only that it's an awesome new  
feature that's going to improve their life.

Who is the group in the middle that this wooly new terminology is  
going to serve? I don't see it.


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