[whatwg] Ghosts from the past and the semantic Web

Silvia Pfeiffer silviapfeiffer1 at gmail.com
Wed Aug 27 19:41:30 PDT 2008

On Thu, Aug 28, 2008 at 12:27 PM, Ben Adida <ben at adida.net> wrote:
> Shannon wrote:
>> I think you were on to something with the CSS-like approach. Ian has
>> stated earlier that class should be considered a generic categorisation
>> element rather than only a CSS hook.
> Three things:
> 1) specifying the semantics only in a separate file rules out a very
> important use case: the ability to simply paste a chunk of HTML into
> your site and have it carry with it all metadata. Think MySpace, Google
> widgets, Creative Commons,.... This is crucial to the design of
> HTML-based metadata.

So you would just cut and paste two pieces of text:  the HTML and the
relevant metadata from the separate file - I don't see that as a big
deal. It is the same issue that we have with css files and people
prefer it that way mostly. First of all it makes the HTML more
readable and restricts it to actual content. But it also allows a
simpler means of choosing whether to copy the existing semantics with
the piece of content, updating the semantics or actually removing

I think in addition to creating a metadata tag that links to an
external file, we could also consider to invent a "metadata" attribute
- analogously to the "style" attribute. Then we have the best of both
worlds: ability to include semantics inside the file and in a separate

> 2) the CSS approach you're proposing is local to the web
> site/application: very hard to reuse things like "item price" across
> sites in a way that will be consistent. That's what URIs are for.

Is this analogous to addressing elements in a web page via xpath?
Or is this analogous to having a xml representation of your web page,
similar to RSS?
I am still struggling with the need for using URIs to address resource
properties rather than resources.

> 3) reinventing metadata from scratch, and without URIs? Is that really
> necessary? We're trying to reuse years' worth of important work from the
> RDF community. There are so many important issues to consider regarding
> the reuse of vocabularies, the ability to discover basic information
> about vocabularies, etc...

It is important to understand the needs of the RDF community. However,
it is also important to understand the history in which similar issues
have been solved in other and usable ways. And to understand which
issues really cannot compared to any past issues and need a novel
approach to solving it.


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