[whatwg] Ghosts from the past and the semantic Web

Greg Houston gregory.houston at gmail.com
Fri Aug 29 10:36:37 PDT 2008

On Fri, Aug 29, 2008 at 11:46 AM, Ben Adida <ben at adida.net> wrote:

> So it seems you agree with the principles of adding one (or more)
> attributes. But the requirement here, for Creative Commons and Digital
> Bazaar and the UK National Archives and ... is to get proper RDF in
> there. So once you agree with the general principle, why re-invent
> something yet again? Does everything about HTML5 have to be invented
> here, or can some wisdom from outside be accepted, too?
> -Ben

Personally, I don't agree with the general principle, but from
Shannon's metadata proposal I tried to find a clean compromise taking
into account some of your own complaints about his proposal.

RDFa makes an incredible mess out of the HTML, and the more I have
been exploring it the more I hope it is never implemented in its
current form.

Setting a precedent for adding multiple new properties to be added to
most of  the elements for one metadata specification is something I
hope does not happen. As a compromise, and one I have zero authority
to make, I suggested a way (going off of Shannon's proposal) to add an
attribute that could be used by RDFa, and any other metadata spec that
comes along and support any kind of file format for the vocabulary. So
some other spec, ABC, might have a vocabulary that uses XYZ file type
for it's vocabulary. Also if down the road you realize you need more
attributes you don't have to go through this process again. You just
add them to your vocabulary. We don't end up with 100 different groups
coming at HTML5 asking for one or two properties to be added to all
the elements to support their next great thing.

My suggestion keeps the metadata code tidy, and more human readable.
Sprawling out all the different metadata properties just makes a huge
mess of the markup.

Also, just to be clear, I am in no sense on the "inside" in some inner
HTML5 circle. On this subject I started out as a casual observer, but
have since, through your aggressive education, developed an opinion. I
see that some great things could probably be done with metadata. I
just don't like the idea of creating a solution that caters to a
single metadata option, and in particular to allow that metadata
option to obfuscate the HTML markup by sprawling all over the place.
If implemented at all I wold like to see it contained in a single
attribute that can easily be picked out visually from the rest.

This sort of mess isn't acceptable to me:

<div class="vcard" id="weborganics"
<p><span property="foaf:name" class="fn">Martin McEvoy</span></p>
<p rel="foaf:img">
<img alt="weborganics" src="http://weborganics.co.uk/images/me.jpg"
<p>Contact: <a rel="foaf:mbox" title="Email" class="email"
href="mailto:info at weborganics.co.uk">Email</a>
Web: <a rel="foaf:weblog me" class="url"
<div class="geo" id="weblog" rel="foaf:based_near"
       <span typeof="geo:Point" about="#weblog">
               <abbr property="geo:lat" content="53.7552" title="53.7552"
class="latitude">N 53.7552</abbr>,
               <abbr property="geo:long" content="-2.3675" title="-2.3675"
class="longitude">W -2.3675</abbr>

It's like having to work in the gutter.

Also, by putting everyone on the defensive, I really don't think you
are going to make much progress here. Maybe that worked on the
Microformats list, but I don't think it's going to fly here. If you
get anywhere at all I think it will have to be through some sort of
compromise or new win win solution, but I seriously doubt you are
going to be able to force RDFa into HTML5 by generating 20% of the
content on this list. Was it Manu that said he generated 20% of the
emails on the Microformats list? I can easily see how that could be so
now if this is your approach to trying to get your way. Just beat
everyone over the head with your thing until everyone gives in,
beneficial or not.


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