[uf-new] XFN - Professionals Network microformat

Guy Fraser gfraser at adaptavist.com
Fri Apr 27 07:53:06 PDT 2007

Manu Sporny wrote:
> I can definitely sympathize with your viewpoints. I don't think the
> licensing and patenting is a concern, read on...

It's very much an issue. Let's say your a company and you want to use 
some software. You're told that it's copyrighted - so you *need* a 
license to use that stuff by default. But then you find that nobody 
really owns that copyright - um, that's an odd situation. At this point 
most corporates choose some alternative solution.

Then you find out that it might be patented, or that there is at least 
intent to patent, but because it's not currently patented you cannot 
guarantee what sort of patent it will go under. Run for the trees! What 
if they patent it and you are using it and then you get sued? What if 
you've made derivative works or if your systems or procedures have 
somehow become dependant on it?

This stuff can't just be shrugged off. Sorry.

> I'll be blunt: every community has a group of jerks and a group of
> people that actually get the work done. While people may seem to be
> jerk-ish on the list, most of them have good intentions.

I never said there were any jerks. What I was trying to say is that the 
process used for uF's is inherently closed - eg, using IRC where unless 
you're on there all day every day you have no idea what's been 
discussed, using mediawiki which inherently hides content if it's not 
linked from a page you can find of if you don't know what to search for 
(having to use the random page feature is just insane), having to show 
real-world examples before things will even be considered, etc.

> The only real input I have to your statements are:
>  - We need people to get the information in a more digestable manner -
>    I'm thinking of putting something together in the next month or two.

Yup - not just existing information, but also a place for new ideas to 
be openly presented (neither the mailing list or wiki or irc seem suited 
to this - would forums be a better place?)

>  - Licensing is going to have to work out - most drafts have the intent
>    of the authors in a section titled "Copyright":
>    http://microformats.org/wiki/audio-info-proposal#Copyright

It's the whole intent thing that is really worrying to corporates - 
intent is a nice bunch of words that mean nothing. Why not just release 
all the uF's under a certified open source license, remove the "we might 
patent this" bit and then the whole planet can freely use uF's? The only 
reason I can imagine not to release as OS is if the uF developers want 
to make money or something?

> I feel your pain... but, there is a great deal of good to be found in
> this community.

Yes, uF community is making some nice stuff. I am worried that the 
process may lead to divergence though - eg. it would seem logical to me 
to have a uF that describes blog posts, comments, pages, etc., all in 
the same format because they all share mostly the same data. This would 
then allow mapping tools, navigation aides, etc., to be far more 
consistent and easier to develop and maintain. But the process 
effectively forces people to start new uFs for new things because they 
find it so hard to get existing uF's to adapt.

Just my £0.02 :)


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