[whatwg] RDFa Problem Statement

Ben Adida ben at adida.net
Tue Aug 26 09:15:00 PDT 2008

I'm really glad Manu's explanation was helpful. Thanks Manu!

I don't want to interrupt this useful thread, I'll only contribute one
piece of information in the form of an example application:

> Is this something that users actually want? How would this actually work? 


> It would be helpful if you could walk me through some examples of what UI 
> you are envisaging in terms of "helping the user find more information".


> I don't think more metadata is going to improve search engines.

Here's one example. This is not the only way that RDFa can be helpful,
but it should help make things more concrete:


Using semantic markup in HTML (microformats and, soon, RDFa), you, as a
publisher, can choose to surface more relevant information straight into
Yahoo search results.

And tool builders can build custom applications that surface other kinds
of data for users who choose to install their SearchMonkey application.
The extensibility of RDF, and in particular the ability to intermix
vocabularies so that different applications can slice the data in their
own chosen way, is key to this effort, as Yahoo appears to have recognized.


> If there's anything we can learn from the Web today, however, it is that 
> authors will reliably output garbage at the syntactic level.


> So to get this data into Web pages, we have to get past the laziness and 
> incompetence of authors.

Continuing with the Yahoo example: using SearchMonkey, users get
immediate feedback on whether they expressed the data correctly. It's
very similar to the incentive users have to make their page render
correctly: now they have incentive to express well-formed data.

Ian, I think you and I agree on the idea of user laziness. Hopefully,
you see the same thing I see here: a beginning of an incentive against
this laziness in the case of structured web data.

I should mention that two SearchMonkey applications have been installed
by default in Yahoo search results. So structured web data now has a
fairly sizable audience.


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