The Progress and the Promise of Microformats.
For decades now, well meaning theorists, architects and engineers have struggled with the problem of allowing electronic content to serve two needs : human readability and machine readability.
For decades now, initiatives to create structured content vocabularies have come into existence, burned brightly in the full glare of enthusiasm+publicity only to then fade away into obscurity. I would guess that of all the SGML, XML vocabs I've come across over 20 years, 0.001% of them have actually made an impact.
Now, you could argue that it is still "just a matter of time" until the tools improve to the point where the glorious future of semantic content creation/publication - as originally envisaged - can be ushered into the mainstream.
Or, you could argue (as I do) that maybe - just maybe - there is something fundamentally wrong with the way we have been trying to enable the creation/publication of semantic content.
Right now, people - ordinary people - are getting excited about microformats. For the first time *ever* ordinary folk are now motivated to start adding semantic information to their content.
We SGML/XML folk should welcome it with open arms and help out where we can rather than look aghast at how microformats work.
Semantic markup is happening at last. Surprise surprise, it is not taking the shape that we had anticipated.
Viva la vie.