[uf-new] ISBN, ISSN and the case for moving forward now

Scott Reynen scott at makedatamakesense.com
Sun Mar 18 08:10:42 PST 2007

On Mar 18, 2007, at 8:40 AM, Brian Suda wrote:

> ISBNs are special cases of unique identifiers. We do NOT need to
> invent a system specifically to ISBNs, ISSN, ISBN-10, ISBN-13, etc....
> microformats solve a GENERAL problem, not a specific one.

I disagree with this as stated.  The microformat principles clearly  
state "solve a specific problem."  We should, however, solve a  
*specific problem* with a *general solution*, to allow for  
"modularity / embeddability" (another principle), which I hope is  
what Brian was trying to communicate.

> We have a mechanism already for unique identifiers, it is called UID!

Great.  Let's apply that general mechanism to the specific problem of  
ISBNs.  Solving of a problem with existing techniques is A Good  
Thing, and we should focus on that goodness more.

> The Citation format has discussed how to handle ISBNs with the UID  
> and TYPES
> http://microformats.org/wiki/citation-brainstorming#Outstanding_Issues

This looks like it will solve this specific problem:

<div class="uid"><span class="type">ISBN</span>: <span

Now let's document that somewhere where it won't be so easily  
overlooked again.

> The creation of the wiki page for ISBN
> http://microformats.org/wiki/isbn should be re-worked to incorporate
> OLD examples and the use of UID NOT as a proposal for a new format.
> The ISBN page should be a redirect to http://microformats.org/wiki/uid
> and not a seperate microformats!

I agree that the ISBN page should be edited to explore using a  
technique already established in the work on citations.  But I see no  
harm, and a lot of good, in exploring how this technique applies  
specifically to ISBNs on a separate page, just as we explored using  
hCalendar for marking up operating hours on a separate page:


As Ben West said recently:

> documenting techniques should be a successful goal for the  
> microformats community

Such documentation is very useful for publishers trying to understand  
how general techniques apply to specific problems, and should be  

Scott Reynen

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