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Re: RDFa and Web Directions North 2009

From: Ben Adida <ben@adida.net>
Date: Sun, 08 Feb 2009 22:13:05 -0800
Message-ID: <498FC971.8010503@adida.net>
To: Manu Sporny <msporny@digitalbazaar.com>
CC: RDFa mailing list <public-rdf-in-xhtml-tf@w3.org>, RDFa Community <public-rdfa@w3.org>


Thanks for the summary! Very useful stuff.


Manu Sporny wrote:
> Hi all,
> I had the pleasure of teaching a 4 hour workshop on RDFa and giving a
> high-level talk on RDFa and the semantic web at this year's Web
> Directions North[1] conference. I'll post the presentation material
> later in the month.
> If none of you have been to a Web Directions conference before, you
> should try going if there is one near you - it was absolutely fantastic
> - very non-corporate, great topics, fantastically organized. Lots of
> webheads from W3C, Opera, IE, Google, Yahoo, and others that are heavily
> involved in using standards to build the next generation web.
> What follows is some feedback that I got from the workshop and talk on
> RDFa. Conference attendees were primarily a mix of web designers and
> developers. I take no position on any of the feedback, just relaying it
> so that others on the list can comment.
> The Workshop
> ------------
> Most everyone that attended the workshop was familiar with Microformats,
> were using them in their website, and wanted to learn more about RDFa.
> All of them seemed to understand RDFa, CURIEs, namespaces, chaining,
> bnodes, hanging @rels, etc. by the end of the workshop. Having not known
> anything about RDF and RDF/XML when starting the workshop, they seemed
> to leave with a fairly solid understanding of RDFa.
> ---------------
> While many people were using XHTML1 in their demos to perform markup,
> there were many more designers and web developers that thought that
> HTML5 was the next version of (X)HTML. There was a great deal of buzz
> around HTML5 and nobody that I spoke to mentioned that they were in the
> least bit excited about XHTML2, even when asked directly. HTML5 was
> mentioned in presentations and conversations throughout the week. The
> general feeling was that HTML5 was far more exciting than XHTML2.
> Most seemed to hate the term "RDFa"
> -----------------------------------
> Many confused RDFa with RDF/XML and even more confused RDF/XML with RDF.
> Web developer understanding surrounding the differences between RDF,
> RDF/XML and RDFa are a mess. People got it after the talk, but several
> made the suggestion that we re-brand RDFa because "it's different from
> RDF and there are really bad connotations associated with RDF". "It
> sounds way too technical." were some of the other comments - it really
> scared web designers. They also didn't like the W3C semantic web icon
> and seemed to feel the same about the W3C site in general, several
> mentioned that they "felt like I was looking at a website from the late
> 1990s" (note that most of the negative comments came from web designers).
> RDFa Website and Blog
> ---------------------
> There were many comments about how the Microformats website looked far
> more professional and was far more useful at presenting information than
> the RDFa blog and wiki. There were several complaints about it being
> nearly useless and universally scary for web designers that are just
> starting out with web semantics.
> RDFa Wizards and Templates
> --------------------------
> "It would be really nice if I could just go to a site and start filling
> out a form to generate RDFa for people/places/events/etc.". This was
> repeated on every day of the conference - we've been talking about it
> for some time, but have not gotten it done yet. Seems to be a great need
> for this.
> Namespaces weren't an issue
> ---------------------------
> I made it a point to ask people directly if the xmlns:foaf=XYZ prefixing
> mechanism scared or confused them and not a single person said that it
> did. Most seemed to feel as if it were a fairly normal mechanism to
> define a prefix. Granted, they didn't know the alternatives, but not
> once did I have an argument about why we have namespaces in RDFa. That
> being said, most said that they understood why we have namespaces...
> BUT, having no namespaces was easier to understand. Most seemed to
> understand the vocabulary scaling problem inherent with Microformats.
> SVG + RDFa
> ----------
> Doug Schepers worked RDFa into his SVG presentation, using it to
> describe people in an image such as "pretty", "tubby", "skinny", "bald".
> He wanted the ability to tag areas of an image and attach semantic
> attributes or descriptions to the image. This has some fairly powerful
> implications for people with disabilities, such as the ability to mark
> up areas on a graphical map as "water", or "land", or "forest", or "bus
> stop", etc. using RDFa. A thermal printer would take this data and then
> add physical semantics to the map that is printed out based on the
> semantics (braille, water texture, etc.)
> Overall the feedback on RDFa was very positive and many stated that they
> were going to go back and try messing around with it a bit more.
> -- manu
> [1] http://north.webdirections.org/
Received on Monday, 9 February 2009 06:13:45 UTC

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