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Microformats and Semantic structure (Part 2)

From: John Foliot <jfoliot@stanford.edu>
Date: Fri, 6 Oct 2006 15:33:42 -0700
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <00f001c6e997$7d6b37f0$c48e40ab@Piglet>

Leap Before You Look Dept.:

...or a second run on my earlier post. 

In the early days of HTML, semantic structure meant (to me, and every other
developer I knew) that documents had a structural meaning to them: <h1>,
<h2>, <p> and other block level elements applied a structure so that
"semantically" the document could render in any user-agent, and the
*meaning* of the text and it's relationship to other text on the page was
clear.  Structural semantics.

However (as I sorta forgot in my haste to bang out a response), the W3C's
"Semantic Web" is also about extending meaning to content beyond the basic
page concepts; and in this sense microformats are indeed "Semantic" - it
extends "meanings" at a machine level for re-purposing and use/re-use.  Any
unintended confusion by my part is apologized for.

In the context of the discussion of web accessibility, while the first
concept of "semantic" is important to AT (in a "...if it's a list, mark it
as a list, don't make a table with 5 rows and 2 columns so that the first
cell has a bullet and the second some text..." kind of way), the second
concept of The Semantic Web has not yet (again, AFAIK) been taken up by
developers and vendors of AT products - although that is an exciting idea in

And so while I whole-heartedly agree that "Semantic Web" constructs such as
Microformats have their place, I still hope for and maintain that clear
structural semantics (of the old school variety) are critical for the
current (and foreseeable future) crop of alternative user-agents and
Adaptive Technologies.  What we don't need (IMHO) is a web where everything
is simply a <div> with some extraneous Microformats style association added
to it.  RDF is cool and all, but there still needs to be a place for human
consumable content... It's not all just machines talking to machines.

The statement "...<div class="paragraph"> does not equal <p>..." still

Ya, that's what I meant...

Received on Friday, 6 October 2006 22:34:03 UTC

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