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RE: The war of the worlds: HTML vs. RDF

From: Justin James <j_james@mindspring.com>
Date: Fri, 9 Jan 2009 13:15:51 -0500
To: "'Giovanni Gentili'" <giovanni.gentili@gmail.com>, <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <087a01c97286$4dfe5ef0$e9fb1cd0$@com>

> -----Original Message-----
> From: public-html-request@w3.org [mailto:public-html-request@w3.org] On
> Behalf Of Giovanni Gentili
> Sent: Friday, January 09, 2009 12:00 PM
> To: public-html@w3.org
> Subject: The war of the worlds: HTML vs. RDF
> The first solution that we can think of
> is a new attribute @semantic
> (don't focus on his name) used like this
>    <A href =".." semantic =".." class =".."
>    <DIV semantic =".." class =".."
> in @semantic we can have:
> a) URL of a resource that semantically describes
> the content (in RDF, RDFa, JSON, CSV) like this
>    semantic="http://www.foo.com/desc.rdf"
> b) direct semantically structured information, in @style manner,
> probably something like this (thinking at RDFa)
>    semantic="property: ..; about: ..;"
> Furthermore, in the hypothesis of some sort of
> "Cascading Semantics" (see for example cRDF [13])
> we can also think  to create a new element SEMANTIC
> like this
>    <SEMANTIC Type=".."> ...</ SEMANTIC>
> to embed semantically structured information
> along the way in a CSS manner in several format.
> Naturally we need further investigation on *all points*.
> But, probably, we need some new properties/elements
> because not all the exposed problems are simply solvable
> through a generic extension mechanism [14]
> that makes possible to insert RDFa in HTML.
> A generic extension mechanism remains desirable
> for other reasons (MathML, SVG, etc.), but we need
> also a very different thing, set in the heart of HTML,
> that makes it possible to bridge the gap between the two worlds
> of semantic Web and traditional web...
> to make them become one.

Why not allow a "Semantic Style Sheet" to allow the external (to the HTML
document) construction of semantic classes/IDs/etc., and allow any HTML
element to have a class/ID/etc. attribute, that ties back to the style sheet
referenced in the page's HEAD section? In other words, leverage the
knowledge that authors already have with CSS, and simply give them the
ability to use RDFa just like they already use CSS? Why do we need to add
new tags or *force* them to re-specify semantics on a per-tag basis (using
the "semantic" attribute that you propose)? This should work precisely like
CSS, but with semantics. And ARIA should be involved along the way too.

To be frankly honest, 90% of the problem here is the RDFa spec. It reads
like stereo instructions. Raise your hand if you honestly think that the
average HTML author understands what the word "tuple" means. On top of that,
RDFa is this completely unpublicized spec. I never even heard of it until I
was on this list for a few months, and I have been a "real world Web
developer" (I build Web sites, not Web browsers, I don't spend my nights
reading IETF drafts, I've never met Tim Berners-Lee, etc.) for a long time
now. So unless the RDFa folks a) make their draft useful to real-world
people, b) evangelize their work, c) provide some useful tools for RDFa, and
d) provide some real world use cases that the average developer will say,
"hey, this makes my life easier!", this is a non-starter.

I may also note, the majority of your proposals refer more to things that
Web browser vendors and other creators of user agents and authoring tools
can (and should) address, but have nothing to do with the HTML spec. I am
not saying that I agree or disagree with them, but the HTML group will never
put into the draft functional requirements like "must allow users to edit
semantic information of a document."

Received on Friday, 9 January 2009 18:16:51 UTC

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