[whatwg] RDFa Problem Statement (was: Creative Commons Rights Expression Language)

Kristof Zelechovski giecrilj at stegny.2a.pl
Tue Aug 26 00:04:06 PDT 2008

Web browsers are (hopefully) designed so that they run in every culture.  If
you define a custom vocabulary without considering its ability to describe
phenomena of other cultures and try to impose it worldwide, you do more harm
than good to the representatives of those cultures.  And considering it
properly does require much time and effort; I do not think you can have that
off the shelf without actually listening to them.
In a way, complaining that the Microformats protocol impedes innovation is
like saying 'we are big and rich and strong, so either you accommodate or
you do not exist'.  Not that I do not understand; it is straightforward to
say so and it happens all the time.

-----Original Message-----
From: whatwg-bounces at lists.whatwg.org
[mailto:whatwg-bounces at lists.whatwg.org] On Behalf Of Manu Sporny
Sent: Tuesday, August 26, 2008 3:50 AM
To: Ian Hickson
Cc: WHAT-WG; www-archive at w3.org
Subject: Re: [whatwg] RDFa Problem Statement (was: Creative Commons Rights
Expression Language)

The Microformats community, and all communities like it, require a group
of people to come together, collaborate and create a standard vocabulary
to express ALL semantics. A somewhat strained analogy would be bringing
in representatives from all of the cultures of the world and having them
agree on a universal vocabulary. It is an untenable prospect, there is
too much diversity in the world to agree on one master vocabulary. This
is, however, the approach that Microformats has taken, for better or worse.

When you do not scope vocabularies, like the Microformats community has
chosen to do, you force new vocabulary development through a design
bottleneck. This isn't a theoretical bottleneck, it is one that we deal
with each day in the Microformats community.

The RDFa approach is to remove this vocabulary development bottleneck by
addressing the problem of creating a method of semantics expression. The
web has always relied on distributed innovation and RDFa allows that
sort of innovation to continue by solving the tenable problem of a
semantics expression mechanism. Microformats has no such general purpose

In short, RDFa addresses the problem of a lack of a standardized
semantics expression mechanism in HTML family languages. RDFa not only
enables the use cases described in the videos listed above, but all use
cases that struggle with enabling web browsers and web spiders
understand the context of the current page.

-- manu

Manu Sporny
President/CEO - Digital Bazaar, Inc.
blog: Bitmunk 3.0 Website Launches

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