Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Microformats are beautiful

Eve has a great writeup on this years XML Summer School in Oxford, complete with some pics. Eve mentions that I defended Microformats and at one stage described them as "beautiful".

Yes I did say that and yes I meant it! My reasons for believing this are not written down anywhere yet but they will be some day. They will include:-

  • thoughts on the semiotics of markup and the (merely) apparent ontological distinction between element type names and attributes for semantic denotation.
  • thoughts on the human psychology of content creation, publication and viewing
  • thoughts on the application of steganography to document semantics using fixed-schema viewers (e.g. browsers)
  • thoughts on the underwhelming takeup of client side XSLT transforms
  • thoughts on the diachronic nature of "correctness" and implications for the use of CF grammars to capture "correctness"
  • thoughts on the linguistics of XML Grammers and a comparison with Chomskyan Universal Grammars versus actual language usage
  • thoughts on the Wittgensteinian aphorism that "language is use" and how it can tell us a lot about how real world instances of artifical computer based languages work and where their true semantics come from.
  • thoughts on the concept of document "validation" as a continuum rather than a discrete yes/no metric.
  • thoughts on comparing the resistance to microformats to the resistance 10 years ago to XML from some quarters of the the SGML world
  • thoughts on comparing the resistance to HTML 15 years ago from some quarters of the the SGML world
  • thoughts on the non-draconian validation model of browsers
  • thoughts on the lessons we can learn from HyTime versus HTML about the power of powerful esign pattern of "leaving stuff out".
  • thoughts on the applicability of the microformatting concept to any fixed-schema editing environment
  • thoughts on the application of XML process pipelining to "have our cake and eat it too." in a microformat-centric world.


All of which will be fun, if time consuming to write. For now, I will just say this:


  • Microformats are happening. Deal with it.
  • Remember that Worse is often better.
  • Remember the S curve of Disruptive Technologies
  • A complex ssemantics-driven publishing system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple ssemantics-driven publishing system that works. (With apologies to John Gall of Gall's Law fame).

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