[uf-discuss] hCard to represent simple entities (was: Tentativeproposal...)

jim at eatyourgreens.org.uk jim at eatyourgreens.org.uk
Fri Jan 4 06:32:04 PST 2008

I wrote a long-ish reply to Andy's post, but I think it vanished into the
mysterious SMTP aether. My sincere apologies if this is double-posted.

Re. TEI - it's a markup language used in the humanities to mark up digital
versions of printed material - plays, novels, diaries, letters etc. There's
a really good overview at
There's a crossover with microformats in that TEI has semantics for
describing dates, references to people, places and so on. Also, there's a
lot of discussion surrounding TEI on the semantics of printed prose, and
the practicalities of marking up the semantics of a document.

On the names thing, I suppose I could be tagging something with the name
"John Smith", in which case I'd use rel-tag, or making "John Smith"
available to be downloaded as a vcard, in which case I'd use hcard. The
semantics of "John Smith" haven't changed between those two examples. What
I want to do with the phrase "John Smith" has, so the exact microformat I'd
use depends on what I want to do with the names in the end, more than their

In the case of historical documents, more often than not I want to build
indexes to link documents together. So I want to use place names,
references to people, ship names and the names of astronomical objects as
tags. For instance, the links to related people on this letter:
or the links to '2007 WD5' and 'Shoemaker Levy 9' in this blog post:
Would that be as simple as using something like <a rel="tag" class="fn"> to
indicate that this tag is the name of something? Class makes sense to me,
since we talking about different types of full name here.

By the way, since that Flinders letter is originally encoded in TEI, but
the TEI version is hidden away in a database, it might be useful for
serious researchers if we had a mechanism for preserving those semantics in
the HTML version of the letter. There's some discussion of this question on
Semantic Humanities:


Original Message:
From: Andy Mabbett andy at pigsonthewing.org.uk
Date: Fri, 4 Jan 2008 00:34:35 +0000
To: microformats-discuss at microformats.org
Subject: [uf-discuss] hCard to represent simple entities (was:

In message <D0531DB4-856C-4CC9-BD56-4539D4D4AA13 at eatyourgreens.org.uk>,
Jim O'Donnell <jim at eatyourgreens.org.uk> writes

>> For clarity, the former can be distilled to:
>>         hCard is for representing people, companies, organizations,
>>         places

>Reference strings, in TEI markup at least, can also refer to the  names
>of books, ships, plays, films and pretty much anything that can  be
>given a name. hCard works for people and places, but is it general
>enough to cover those cases?

I think ships are an edge-case for hCard.

For books, plays and films, I would think that's a job for a "citation"
microformat, once we have one (and one is surely needed).

[One could argue that a physical copy of a book could have an hCard,
with an extended-address of "Shelf 54, Floor 3, Anytown Library"; but
that's really stretching the logic.]

As for "pretty much anything", I'll leave that for others to decide ;-)

I'm not familiar with TEI:

        "a consortium which collectively develops and maintains a
        standard for the representation of texts in digital form. Its
        chief deliverable is a set of Guidelines which specify encoding
        methods for machine-readable texts, chiefly in the humanities,
        social sciences and linguistics.


- what does it have to teach us?

Andy Mabbett
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