[uf-new] Blog post on HTML5, Microformats and RDFa

Dan Brickley danbri at danbri.org
Sat Jan 24 10:54:48 PST 2009

+cc: Mark Birbeck

On 24/1/09 17:04, Manu Sporny wrote:
> Mark Birbeck (the lead technical mind behind RDFa) has written an
> interesting piece about HTML5, Microformats and RDFa. In the piece, he
> explores distributed semantics extension (RDFa/XHTML2) vs. centralized
> semantics extension (uF/HTML5). It's an interesting post because it
> outlines the two philosophies at play and how they're affecting the
> next-generation of web semantics.
> http://webbackplane.com/mark-birbeck/blog/2009/01/rdfa-means-extensibility
> No surprises in his conclusion (he thinks RDFa is the way forward)...
> worth a read, even for the die-hard uFers, as several interesting points
> are made along the way.

While there is some some interesting history in there, and plenty of 
design observations that I agree with, it's not a very helpful post, in 
terms of communication between diverse communities.

	"The WHATWG for example are pursuing a much more monolithic approach 
with HTML5; they see no need for extension points, since the language 
itself will cover everything."

	"The Microformats approach is also counter to the idea of 'extension 
points' that are open to anyone, since it, too, attempts to centrally 
control the creation of new formats, stifling the evolution of new 
vocabularies by specialists within their sectors."

I fail to see how presenting microformat and HTML5 enthusiasts as 
control freaks is going to help anything. I know from talking with 
various developers from the WHATWG and Microformats scene that they 
simply don't see things this way.

I can see why Mark might think this, but it's an needlessly provocative 
way of phrasing things. HTMLVery binary, them-and-us thinking, at a time 
when many "RDF people" are also working with microformat parsers, and 
many "microformat people" are also busy with RDFa, SPARQL, GRDDL and so 
on. It's also in a week when http://validator.nu/ acquired an 
experimental HTML5+RDFa parser for a no-namespaces/CURIEs subset of 
RDFa. While this might not be what everyone wants, that's the nature of 
compromise and collaboration. What we need right now is a sincere effort 
from all parties to understand and respect those they're arguing with, 
rather than picking fights and suggesting the worst motives lie behind 
every action.

Mark, can you try to be a teeny bit more empathy-minded when writing 
about other communities' work? RDFa is good enough to stand on its 




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