[uf-discuss] Regarding POSH and misuse of the microformats logo

Chris Messina chris.messina at gmail.com
Wed May 16 19:23:18 PDT 2007

I'd rather not continue this thread any longer, but I do want to make
a few observations, and then in vite anyone who wants to continue this
discussion to note your reservations on the POSH talk page [1].

First, the pickup of microformats owes itself to a number of reasons,
not merely the hard work of this community, to which it owes a great
deal, but to the utility, as you outlined, of using microformats in
practice that map to existing standards. In the case of microformats
for which there is little prioir art or formats work, the
process-to-play is unclear. Sure, don't use presentational elements in
your markup, but what else? How do you contribute to a body of work
that may someday lead to the germination of a microformat? Basically,
what do you in between marking up your site with semantic HTML and
getting to work on existing microformats?

The POSH process [2] is an answer to this question.

So beyond just using semantic HTML, we're providing guidance and
leadership on yet another way to improve your value as a semantic web
designer and marketing it with a term that doesn't overlap with
existing lowercase semantic web evanglism.

Anyway, the proof will be in the pudding, and I already have a number
of efforts up my sleeve to make advances on this front. Given the
large interest in creating *new* microformats, we need to provide a
different kind of engagment for these folks; for me, that's the point
of POSH.

If you have more feedback, again, please contribute it to the POSH
talk [1] page.


[1] http://microformats.org/wiki/Talk:posh
[2] http://microformats.org/wiki/posh#The_POSH_Process

On 5/13/07, Ara Pehlivanian <ara.pehlivanian at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 5/13/07, Chris Messina <chris.messina at gmail.com> wrote:
> > It isn't that the arguments aren't clear enough or loudly enough;
> > we've had a good 4-5 years of tooting the proverbial semantic horn.
> > The problem is that, in a lesser amount of time, microformats have
> > totally taken off and captured people's imaginations whereas semantic
> > HTML, the parent container of microformats, has relatively stagnated.
> What is the assumption of the stagnation of semantic HTML relative to
> microformats being based on? Were there any surveys conducted? People
> polled? Or is this just based on a feeling?
> > Why is this? Why is the new "microformats" term more successful than
> > "semantic HTML"?
> I don't think the term has anything to do with it at all. Microformats
> give quick, tangible returns upon implementation. When you implement
> hCard, you reuse data you've already got in your page and suddenly
> people can access and process that data in a systematic way.
> Conversely, whether you write semantic HTML or not, browsers are so
> forgiving that you'll hardly notice a thing right off the bat. That
> isn't to say that semantic HTML isn't important. It's just a universe
> apart from microformats in terms of immediate return on investment.
> The reason why microformats have taken off is because there are apps
> out there that directly consume them and won't work otherwise. The
> bane of semantic HTML has always been the forgiving browser. So long
> as apps aren't written to take full advantage of semantic markup, the
> problem will continue to exist. POSH or not. Because ultimately, what
> convinces a developer/designer is seeing the immediate result of their
> efforts.
> The paradox is in the fact that the creators of the apps that take
> advantage of semantic markup are the developers who need convincing
> themselves. Those familiar with semantic HTML know how to take
> advantage of it via CSS and JavaScript. Those unfamiliar don't know,
> and therefore don't see the need.
> This is why the process of evangelizing people in the use of semantic
> markup is so slow and painstaking. It's also why microformats can't be
> used as a comparison because the two are universes apart when it comes
> to the apps that consume them.
> > Therefore, for pure marketing and attention reasons, we decided that
> > coming up with less of a mouthful
> With all due respect, the idea that "semantic HTML" is a mouthful is
> downright patronizing, for those who already know of it, as well as
> for those whom we're trying to reach.
> > suggesting that people merely use "semantic HTML" is a bit misleading
> > and open-ended, in that HTML itself has a poor vocabulary of semantic
> > objects
> But POSH /is/ semantic HTML, and is therefore open-ended, with a poor
> vocabulary of semantic objects. Stating that one should use POSH won't
> change any of that. If anything, throwing a new acronym into the mix,
> in my opinion, will only confuse people and fragment any ground the
> semantic markup movement has already made. That's because, not
> everyone who sees a new acronym will read up on it (as we're already
> swimming in a sea of them).
> > POSH is the perfect anecdote to what I might call semantic malaise,
> > where web developers and designers would love to go semantic, but
> > apart from moving away from presentational elements and using tables
> > for layouts, there hasn't been much beyond that that offers a way to
> > "level up", whereas with microformats, there's a clear process (think
> > of hCard as being a level-80 microformat, etc).
> The very fact that web developers and designers have begun to move
> away from using presentational elements and tables for layout is due
> to the focused effort of people in the community targeting these
> particular issues. What's to keep the community from targeting the
> semantics of HTML? I don't think a new acronym is going to help do it
> (like I said before I think it's just going to cause confusion). If
> anything, it's just a question of more hard work on the part of the
> community to get the word out that there are semantics involved in
> creating markup, and that there are major benefits to using them. The
> key is in teaching designers/developers on how to take advantages of
> semantic markup.
> > recent years and with the onslaught of closed web technologies like
> > SilverLight, Apollo and JavaFX picking up steam, what's there to lose
> > at this point?
> This is exactly where the confusion will emerge. Developers and
> designers will be under the impression that POSH is some sort of
> wizz-bang technology when it is just a rebranding of something that's
> been around since the stone age. What we'll lose is ground.
> A.
> --
> Ara Pehlivanian
> Site: http://arapehlivanian.com/
> Email & GTalk: ara.pehlivanian at gmail.com
> MSN: ara_p at hotmail.com
> Twitter: http://twitter.com/ara_p/
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Chris Messina
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