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

Shelley Powers shelleyp at burningbird.net
Sun Jan 18 07:22:40 PST 2009

Ian Hickson wrote:
> On Sat, 17 Jan 2009, Sam Ruby wrote:
>> But back to expectations.  I've seen references elsewhere to Ian being 
>> booked through the end of this quarter.  I may have misheard, but in any 
>> case, my point is the same: if this is awaiting something from Ian, it 
>> will be prioritized and dealt with accordingly.
> For what it's worth, my current plan running up to last call in October 
> includes an item in April for me to go through all the use cases that have 
> by that point been put forward in the data markup space, and to work out 
> for each use case and on the aggregate:
> 1. Whether there is compelling evidence that users want that use case 
>    addressed (e.g. whether there are successful companies addressing that 
>    use case using proprietary solutions or ad-hoc extensions to HTML, or
>    whether there are usability studies or some independent market research 
>    showing demand from users, or whether it can be demonstrated that users 
>    are avoiding the Web because it doesn't address this problem).

Again, you've become gatekeeper Ian. You are the one making the decision 
as to worth. You are the only one, as far as I can see, that is making 
decisions about what is, or is not included in the next version of HTML.

You use "I" so frequently. Reading through your emails, one can't help 
wondering if you're the lead singer and everyone else here is nothing 
more than a faint echo.

> 2. Whether the use case is being addressed well enough already (e.g. if 
>    there are companies addressing this use case adequately, or whether the 
>    current solutions really are just hacks with numerous problems).
> 3. What the requirements are for each use case.
> 4. What solutions are available to address these use cases.
> 5. For each solution, whether it addresses the requirements.
> 6. Whether the relevant implementors are interested in implementing 
>    solutions for these use cases (e.g. whether authoring tools are willing 
>    to expose the feature, whether validator writers want to check for the 
>    correctness, whether browser vendors are willing to expose the relevant 
>    UI, whether search engine companies are willing to use the data, or 
>    whatever else might be appropriate).
> The more use cases there are, the better informed the results will be.

The point isn't to provide use cases. The point is to highlight a 
serious problem with this working group--there is a mindset of what the 
future of HTML will look like, and the holders of the mindset brook no 
challenge, tolerate no disagreement, and continually move to quash any 
possibility of asserting perhaps even the faintest difference of opinion.

My apologies for not responding sooner to this thread. You see, one of 
the WhatWG working group members thought it would be fun to add a 
comment to my Stop Justifying RDF and RDFa web post, which caused the 
page to break. I am using XHTML at my site, because I want to 
incorporate inline SVG, in addition to RDFa. An unfortunate consequence 
of XHTML is its less than forgiving nature regarding playful pranks such 
as this.

I'm assuming the WhatWG member thought the act was clever. It was, 
indeed. Three people emailed me to let me know the post was breaking 
while loading the page in a browser, and I made sure to note that such 
breakage was courtesy of a WhatWG member, who decided that perhaps I 
should just shut up, here and at my site, about the Important Work 
people(?) here are doing.

Of course, the person only highlighted why it is so important that 
something such as RDFa, and SVG, and MathML, get a home in HTML5. XHTML 
is hard to support when you're allowing comments and external input. 
Typically my filters will catch the accidental input of crappy markup, 
but not the intentional. Not yet. I'm not an exerpt at markup, but I 
know more than the average person. And the average person most likely 
doesn't have my commitment, either.

Someone earlier said that HTML5 is for web application users, only, and 
that the rest of us interested in things like RDFa should just use 
XHTML. In other words, make it good for Google and to hell with the rest 
of us. This, this is the guiding attitude behind the future of the web?

Regardless, I got the point in the comment. That, combined with this 
email from Ian, tells us that it doesn't matter how our arguments run, 
the logic of our debate, the rightness of our cause--he is the final 
arbiter, and he does not want RDFa. I am not paid by Google, or Mozilla, 
or IBM to continue throwing away my time, arguing for naught.


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