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Re: 'HTML 5' and some poem markup?

From: Philip Taylor (Webmaster) <P.Taylor@Rhul.Ac.Uk>
Date: Fri, 05 Oct 2007 17:20:38 +0100
Message-ID: <47066456.2010403@Rhul.Ac.Uk>
To: "Dr. Olaf Hoffmann" <Dr.O.Hoffmann@gmx.de>
CC: public-html@w3.org, Peter Krantz <peter.krantz@gmail.com>


Dr. Olaf Hoffmann wrote:

> Well following this idea, HTML5 should reduce everything to 
> the essentials like the div element. 
> Many authors are starting to do this anyway,
> they are tired looking for sufficient elements not existing in HTML ;o)
> Why to introduce something like audio, video, embed, canvas,
> section, header, footer, article etc? This is markup with some
> more ore less semantic meaning. If HTML 5 is intended to
> be unspecific they should be removed again. Should be enough
> to have div, object (or embed), style and a for most authors.

There is considerable merit in this proposal, but what it
represents is one end of a continuum (the minimalist end).
At the other end is a language so rich that it can be
used to mark up every known form of text, in any language,
and of any era, with total precision, but that is so vast
that no human would ever be able to remember the name of
each and every element, let alone the attribute(s) that each
permits or requires.

HTML as it currently exists is somewhere in the middle,
offering a limited range of elements that can be used
to mark up a large number of contemporary  classes of
document with a reasonable correspondence between markup
and actual semantics.  What Dr Hoffmann is proposing is
to extend HTML to encompass markup specific for poems.

But if we were to do this, where would we stop ?  Would
we then need to add markup for plays, for recipes, for chemical
formulae, for contracts ?  Surely not.  So the real answer is
that HTML of itself is not ideally suited to marking up poems,
but one /can/ fudge it (a) by overloading existing elements
and clarifying the nature of the overload through the
"class" (or *"role") attribute, as in

	<div class="stanza">
		...
	</div>

		or

	<div *role="stanza">
		...
	</div>

or (b) by using the inherent extensibility of XHTML, as
suggested by Peter Krantz (below), with whose remarks
I completely concur:

> XHTML2 provides an extension mechanism through RDFa. RDFa will let you
> add semantic meaning (and parsing by others) to your specific domain.
> In fact you could semantically express poems of specific forms this
> way and create interesting possibilities for people who want to
> extract the poetry for e.g. resarch reasons.
> 
> A markup language should probably include as little as possible from
> specific domains and focus on the general things instead. Domain
> specifics should be handled via an extension mechanism that allows for
> unambiguous interpretation of the expressed information.

Philip TAYLOR
Received on Friday, 5 October 2007 16:21:21 UTC

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