[microformats-discuss] Evolution vs Intelligent Design

Luke Arno luke.arno at gmail.com
Thu Oct 6 09:17:08 PDT 2005

On 10/6/05, Danny Ayers <danny.ayers at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 10/5/05, Luke Arno <luke.arno at gmail.com> wrote:
> > This debate has become so religious I figured I might as well go all the way.
> >
> > On 10/5/05, David Janes -- BlogMatrix <davidjanes at blogmatrix.com> wrote:
> > >
> > > The creation of microformats is very much analogous to the creation of
> > > English language dictionaries, where common usage was examined, codified
> > > and standardized. Before dictionaries went into common use, there were
> > > many acceptable ways of spelling the same word; afterwards, writers
> > > looked dictionaries to find the correct way to spell words.
> > >
> > > Microformats are the dictionary of XHTML semantic content.
> Nice, very nice.
> > It's language. It's evolution not "intelligent design."
> Hmm, that seems a stretch. The dictionary analogy could perhaps be
> described as natural selection, a filtering of spelling that works for
> people. But is that filtering something from a natural environment
> (such as the Web) or an artificial design thing? Also I don't see much
> mutation (I'm not sure tweaks are enough for the origin of species),
> and the breeding that's taking place does largely seem to be within a
> fairly closed community ;-)

I wasn't speaking of evolution within the microformats community. I was
referring to evolution of semantics in markup across the Web.

It is not just a metaphor. Language is literal evolution. Check out chapter
10 of "The Selfish Gene" by Richard Dawkins.

> In the context of software some intelligent design is needed to get
> things started. I guess my concerns from the "Educationg Others"
> thread could maybe be summarised as the microformats development
> process being weighted towards Selection rather than Intelligent
> Reaction (to borrow Adam Bosworth's phrase) to issues raised.

I don't even like the phrase "microformats development" for what is
happening here. That is why I object to requiring an overarching problem
statement for microformats. It is not a development effort at its core.

Individual microformats have problem statements but observe step 2
in the microformats process.


I do agree with you that a little intelligence and fore site is in
order as well.
Dawkins writes at the end of the chapter sited above:

"We alone on earth can rebel against the tyranny of our selfish replicators."

- Luke

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