[uf-discuss] [Zen of Microformats] Two Fundamental Principles of Information Design

Ian Davis lists at iandavis.com
Thu Mar 8 12:26:43 PST 2007

Hi Ara,

On 08/03/2007 19:43, Ara Pehlivanian wrote:
> What I think your contrast of microformats' bottleneck with the web's
> free growth is missing is the notion that there indeed /was/ a
> "bottleneck" in the development of the web in the form of Tim
> Berners-Lee. It's just that it was all up front and not distributed
> throughout its growth. When he invented HTML, he did the same kind of
> work we're trying to do with microformats, but he did it by himself
> and presented it to the community as a fait-accompli.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding but you appear to be saying that creation of 
each microformat is equivalent to creating HTML, i.e. a set of useful 
elements people can use for creative expression. Under the microformats 
process that effort needs to be centralised to prevent name collision, 
semantic drift and duplication of effort. There's no way to allow 
parallel development and then work out how to coordinate differences later.

This means there's a limit to the scalability of the mf development process.

> I believe that the growth of any data format requires some agreed upon
> standard for its consumers to use. Otherwise, how can you ensure
> reliable consumption of the information if you don't have any idea
> what you're going to get? It's like parsing XML from an unknown source
> without a schema.

I think the agreements can occur in parallel between interested and 
motivated parties. But that's not the impression I get of the 
microformats process. It isn't a microformat until it's blessed by the 
mf community.

Here's a great microformat that's been developed outside the mf community:


Has anyone here heard of it, evaluated it or have an opinion on it? Its 
development followed the mf principles with an extensive survey of 
existing practice and a distillation of that into a set of common and 
reasonably humanly accessible terms. I provided some mentorship to the 
author as part of his Masters (of which this formed the thesis)


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