[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 17:56:20 PST 2009

Ian Hickson wrote:
> On Sun, 18 Jan 2009, Shelley Powers wrote:
>>> 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.
> I'm certainly sad that this is the impression I have given. I'd like to 
> clarify for everyone's sake that this mailing list is definitely open to 
> any proposals, any opinions, any disagreement. The only thing I ask is 
> that people use rational debate, back up their opinions with logical 
> arguments, present research to justify their claims, and derive proposals 
> from user needs.
I've been especially critical of you, which isn't fair. At the same 
time, as you have said yourself, you are a "benevolent dictator", which 
seems to me to not be the best strategy for an inclusive HTML for the 

I know I'm not comfortable with the concept. But I'm also late to this 
group, and shouldn't disrupt if the strategy works.
>> 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.
> For the record, I am as open to us including a feature like RDFa as I am 
> to us including a feature like MathML, SVG, or indeed anything else. While 
> I may present a devil's advocate position to stimulate critical 
> consideration of proposals, this does not mean that my mind is made up. If 
> my mind was made up, I wouldn't be asking for use cases, and I wouldn't 
> be planning to investigate the issue further in April.
There is a fine difference between being the devil's advocate, and the 
devil's front door made of thick oak, with heavy brass fittings.

How does one know if one has provided a use case in a format that is 
more likely to meet a successful outcome, than not. Is the criteria 
documented somewhere? It's difficult to provide use cases with the 
twenty questions approach.

What are the criteria by which a possible solution to a problem is 
judged? Is there a consistent set of questions asked? Tests made? A 
certain number of implementations? Again, is this documented somewhere?

>> I am not paid by Google, or Mozilla, or IBM to continue throwing away my 
>> time, arguing for naught.
> It may be worth pointing out that, many of our most active participants 
> are volunteers, not paid by anyone to participate. Indeed I myself spent 
> many years contributing to the standards community while unemployed or 
> while a student. I am sorry you feel that you need to be compensated for 
> your participation in the standards community, and wish you the best of 
> luck in finding a suitable employer.
The point I was trying to make, and forgive me if the my writing was too 
subtle, is that it's not the fact that the work will time, but whether 
the time will be well spent.

Operating in the dark and tossing use cases in hopes they stick against 
the wall, without understanding criteria is not a particularly good use 
of time. However, having specific tasks that meet a given goal, and 
knowing that the goal is stable, and not a moving target, goes a long 
way to ensuring that the time spent has value.

Knowing that one can, with diligence, ensure that the best result occurs 
is a good use of time.

Spitting into the wind, at the whim and whimsy of a benevolent dictator, 
is not a good use of time.

> As far as Google goes, we have no corporate opinion either way on the 
> topic of RDFa in HTML5. We do, however, encourage the continued practice 
> of basing decisions on data rather than hopes.

Bully for Google.


More information about the whatwg mailing list