Thoughts on HTML5, RDFa and Microformats

Digital Bazaar started searching for a standards body that we could work with to express music, movie and television-based semantic data. The Microformats community seemed like a good place to start. We had heard good things about the speed of their process, the openness of their community and their focus on solving real-world problems. We were sold. Our company needed to get involved in the Microformats community as quickly as possible to achieve our goal of standardizing the expression of media information such as artist, title, publish date, pricing, and purchase process.

That was two years ago. Today, 20% of all mailing list traffic generated on the microformats-new mailing list was generated by Manu Sporny, Digital Bazaar’s founder. The mailing list is a 320+ member community devoted to the creation of semantic vocabularies for the web. As a by-product of getting the hAudio standard through the process, discussion related to the markup of audio metadata constituted at least 35% of the mailing list traffic. hAudio is the only standard to go through the entire Microformats process in the past 3 years. While quantity does not imply quality, it is not a stretch to state that we are a very large contributor to the community. We understand how the community works. We contribute in order to make the world a better place for artists, publishers and fans – so that expressing, finding, buying and selling music on the web can be a more enjoyable and streamlined process.

We have learned quite a bit about the benefits and limitations of the Microformats community during the past three years. While we continue to be active in the Microformats community, our experience shows us that it is a stop-gap solution to the larger problem of semantic data expression. Our experience with the Microformats community demonstrated that the Process would not scale and that we needed something better. That thing, we would find out as the weeks that hAudio languished in the Microformats process turned into months, was and continues to be RDFa.

Here’s what the HTML5 group doesn’t see yet…

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