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History Brainstorming

Per the microformats The microformats process this is a brainstorming page considering the existing real world examples of historical information published on the Web.


  • The "timeline" examples all seem to comprise a sequence of either actual or potential hCalendar events. While it may be possible to assume that any page containing multiple hCalendars represents a timeline, that would not account for pages containing two or more disparate timelines; or a set of hCalendar events which are unrelated, and thus not intended as a timeline. This could be remedied with a simple parent microformat, say hTimeline, with title and summary properties (say "timeline-title", "timeline-summary"), thus:
	<span class="htimeline">
		<h2 class="timeline-title">Timeline 1</h2>
		<p class="timeline-summary">Blah blah blah</p>

	<span class="htimeline">
		<h2 class="timeline-title">Timeline 2</h2>
		<p class="timeline-summary">Yada yada</p>
Andy Mabbett 02:24, 16 Jan 2008 (PST)

Extensions to Existing Microformats

It strikes me that a lot of historical information could be marked up using existing microformats with perhaps just a few additions/changes.

  • Historical events could be marked up using hCalendar events
    • Would need the ability to use approximations for dtstart and dtend
    • Has an attendee property which can be used to indicate who was involved in the event.
    • Would be nice to explicitly mark up causality. That is "event1 caused event2 with reason x". Assuming that both events have an id attribute allowing them to be referenced independently then a link from event2 to event1 could be marked with rel="cause" (or similar). This would be a step in the right direction.
  • Historical characters could be marked up with hResume
    • hResume uses hCard 1.0
      • hCard could be extended to include the birth, death and dday properties from vCard 4.0, for recording the birth place, place of death and date of death for a person. bday is already part of hCard.
    • Many important historical characters change titles/roles over time. e.g. the Duke of Cornwall might become Prince of Wales and later King of the United Kingdom. hResume's experience with embedded hCalendar events and hCards captures this semantic.
    • You can tag experiences as "Birth", "Death", "Marriage", "Had_Child", etc.
  • People's relationships can be captured with XFN
  • Places can be marked up as Geo, adr or place hCards. The advantage of hCards for places is that it allows for notes to be attached to places (hCard note property) and for places to be given an identifier (hCard uid) so that the same place can be referred to multiple times unambiguously.
  • Countries can be marked up as hCard places using class="fn country-name". The date when the nation was founded could then be marked up with bday. National leaders (e.g. monarchs) could be indicated with hCard agent
  • Citation microformat efforts could be used, but until something useful comes from that effort, OpenURL COinS offers a machine-parsable (albeit ugly) solution for machine-readable references. Cognition supports some extensions to COinS which allow OpenURL ContextObjects to be kept not just in span@title, but also the slightly better semantically blockquote@cite, q@cite and cite@title attributes.
  • An important point is that the uid property of hCalendar and hCard (and via hResume's contact hCard, hResume as well!) allowing the same person or event to be referenced in multiple contexts. e.g. a person's birth is an event not just in their life, but in the lives of each of their parents too. Perhaps also the mother died in labour (as was once fairly common) — this could be marked up using the causality suggestion above, with one event causing another. Perhaps this death triggers a royal succession (if the mother was a queen), in which case it could cause another event which is not just an event in the new monarch's life, but an even in the county's "life" (assuming that the country itself has an hResume). The uid property potentially allows for all kinds of complicated interlinking.
TobyInk 03:11, 5 Aug 2008 (PDT)

See also