[whatwg] RDFa is to structured data, like canvas is to bitmap and SVG is to vector

Dan Brickley danbri at danbri.org
Sun Jan 18 02:28:24 PST 2009

On 18/1/09 00:24, Henri Sivonen wrote:

> No. However, most of the time, when people publish HTML, they do it to
> elicit browser behavior when a user loads the HTML document in a browser.

Most users of the Web barely know what a browser is, let alone HTML. 
They're just putting information online; perhaps into a closed site (eg. 
facebook), perhaps into a public-facing site (eg. a blog), or perhaps 
into 1:1, group or IM messaging (eg. webmail). HTML figures in all these 
scenarios. Browsers or HTML rendering code too, of course. But I don't 
think we can jump from that to claims about user intent, and more than 
their use of the Internet signifies an intent to have their information 
chopped up into packets and transmitted according to the rules of TCP/IP.

The reason for my pedantry here is not to be argumentative, but just to 
suggest that this (otherwise very natural) thinking leads us to forget 
about the other major consumers of HTML - search engines. Having their 
stuff found and linked by other is often a big part of the motivation 
for putting stuff online. HTML parsing is involved, impact on the needs 
and interests of mainstream users is involved; but it's not clear 
whether all/any/many users 'do it to elicit search engine behaviour when 
indexing the HTML document'.

Aren't search engines equally important consumers of HTML? Perhaps 
they're more simple-minded in their behaviour than a full UI browser. 
But from the user side, there's only slightly more value in being 
readable without being findable than vice-versa...




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