Thoughts on HTML5, RDFa and Microformats

This article was authored by one of our founders, Manu Sporny. He is an Invited Expert for the RDF in XHTML Task Force at the World Wide Web Consortium and a very active participant in the Microformats community.

We are first and foremost a media services company serving the music, movie, television and electronic book industries. Our mission is to help artists from every walk of life, in every corner of the world, to make a living performing their craft.

Our company does this by creating tools, services and online environments that monetize digital creations for artists by using cutting-edge technology to perform digital distribution. Peer-to-peer networks, swarming distribution, micro-payment-based transaction networks, semantic web technologies, cryptography and steganography are just a few of the tools that we use to deliver on our promise to our artists, publishers and content fans.

Over the past several years, we have been working to help create a standard method of expressing information about music, movies and television on the web with the Microformats and RDFa communities. It has always been our understanding that Microformats are only going to take the web so far, and we will need a more robust, standardized way of expressing semantic information.

Recently, several discussion threads have been started on the WHATWG mailing list (the group of people working on HTML5), that were very discouraging. Not only because they discount the need for such a standardized semantic mark-up technology, but because they are making the decision on factually inaccurate “gut-reactions” about how Microformats work. The exchange expressed a failure to understand the core need of the semantic web by the HTML5 community, mostly because they have never had to create a Microformat through the Microformats Process, nor implement a Microformat parser.

The rest of this article is an attempt to educate the larger web community about the limitations of Microformats, the Microformats Process, and why the web needs both RDFa AND the Microformats community in order to make the semantic web a reality.

We started out where most in the HTML5 community are, we thought Microformats would be the solution to the semantic web…

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