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

Ian Hickson ian at hixie.ch
Mon Oct 24 20:35:44 PDT 2005

On Tue, 25 Oct 2005, Danny Ayers wrote:
> >
> > RDF is optimised for computer consumption. HTML is optimised for human 
> > consumption. Therefore we should be using HTML.
> Sorry, that doesn't work. RDF is optimised for modelling things and 
> relationships between them. HTML is optimised for rendering documents.

Humans don't model things and the relationships between them, generally. 
I'm not sure what you mean by "rendering documents". HTML is not about 
rendering, it's about semantics, and at this point is no longer 
particularly limited to documents either (applications are often done in 
HTML, for instance).

> > JPEGs. It is image data, HTML would be highly inappropriate.
> Quite. I think the same applies for a large proportion of data found in 
> databases today, much of which could be usefully exposed on the Web.

At the moment, such data would be exposed via HTML forms.

If you want to make the data available in a more "raw" form (to enable you 
to make custom queries against the data in a way that a form wouldn't let 
you) then you're going to have to solve two problems:

 1. How to present the raw data to the user in a way that is at least as 
    understandable as the current form approach, and

 2. How to allow you to run these custom queries on the data in a 
    reliable, standard way that isn't site-specific and doesn't require 
    you to download the entire data set (since there could be gigabytes 
    or even terabytes of it).

Neither of these requirements says anything about the data model, format, 
or syntax; those are all quite secondary. Both of these problems _must_ be 
solved before anyone will consider moving to something other than HTML 
forms, IMHO, because otherwise they won't see a compelling reason to move. 
They must have a compelling reason to move because it will be a very 
expensive process to do so.

(If you want the data available in a form other than HTML forms for a 
reason _other_ than being able to query it more effectively, then please 
explain the use case, as I don't understand it yet.)

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'

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