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What are microformats?
- a way of thinking about data
- design principles for formats
- adapted to current behaviors and usage patterns ("Pave the cow paths." - Adam Rifkin)
- highly correlated with semantic XHTML, AKA the real world semantics, AKA lowercase semantic web, AKA lossless XHTML
- described by Tantek's recent presentation at SXSW: The Elements of Meaningful XHTML
- a set of simple open data format standards that many (including Technorati) are actively developing and implementing for more/better structured blogging and web microcontent publishing in general.
- "An evolutionary revolution" - Ryan King
- all the above.
microformats are not:
- a new language
- infinitely extensible and open-ended
- an attempt to get everyone to change their behavior and rewrite their tools
- a whole new approach that throws away what already works today
- a panacea for all taxonomies, ontologies, and other such abstractions
- defining the whole world, or even just boiling the ocean
- any of the above
the microformats principles
- solve a specific problem
- start as simple as possible
- solve simpler problems first
- make evolutionary improvements
- design for humans first, machines second
- be presentable and parsable
- visible data is better than invisible metadata
- adapt to current behaviors and usage patterns, e.g. (X)HTML, blogging
- reuse building blocks from widely adopted standards
- modularity / embeddability
- design to be reused and embedded inside existing formats and microformats
- enable and encourage decentralized and distributed development, content, services
- explicitly encourage the original "sirit of the Web"
See the main page for a list of current microformats specifications, drafts, and discussions.