[microformats-discuss] FYI: two posting about the Semantic Web, the "SynWeb", scraping and microformats

Dr. Ernie Prabhakar drernie at opendarwin.org
Mon Oct 24 17:50:20 PDT 2005

Hi Danny,

On Oct 24, 2005, at 5:24 PM, Danny Ayers wrote:
> Going back a few sentences, you talk of "human-readable web pages" as
> if that's the only source or sink of data, with no intermediation, no
> computer work allowed. That's the cultural difference here. A lot of
> information can be represented in a machine-friendly fashion.

Actually, I meant *precisely* the opposite. :-)  Perhaps that is the  

I believe the *intermediate* files are the ones that need to be  
HTML.  That is, my vision of a microformatted future is one where all  
*published* data on the web is in 'salted' XHTML Basic, no matter  
where it came from or where it ends up.

> Take a train timetable. Would you prefer 1000 human-readable HTML
> pages detailing the journeys, or just a form with fields for start and
> destination, a machine to do the searching for you?

Oh, I'd love to have a machine do the searching -- but please, give  
me the results as XHTML table with meaningful class names, so I can  
write an Automator action to run it interactively.  Without having to  
wait for someone to create a *separate* web service, which I'd have  
to learn Yet Another Schema to use.

Maybe I'm ill-informed:  my understanding is that the non-microformat  
vision of the Semantic Web was predicated on encoding data in a non- 
HTML, non-human-visible format in order to enable machine parsing.  
Did you mean something else?

To me, the beauty of microformats is that there is *one* data format  
and interface usable by *both* humans and machines -- but the  
machines have to work harder than we do. :-)

-- Ernie P.

Ernest N. Prabhakar, Ph.D. <drernie at opendarwin.org>
Ex-Physicist, Marketing Weenie, and Dilettante Hacker
Probe-Hacker blog: http://www.opendarwin.org/~drernie/

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