Bootstrapping the Semantic Web

I’ve been meaning to comment on these for a few weeks now, but it seems they’re making the rounds; hCard and hCalendar, HTML-encoded equivalents of the vCard and iCalendar specs. Check out this example hCard;

<span class="vcard">
 <a href="">
  <span class="n" style="display:none"> <!-- hide this from display with CSS -->
   <span class="Family-Name">Celik</span>
   <span class="Given-Name">Tantek</span>

  <span class="fn">Tantek Celik</span>

Isn’t that freaking gorgeous? Let’s think about what constraints Tantek had to work within in order to produce that…

  • de-facto extensibility behaviour of common browsers
  • inline styling when extensibility doesn’t give you what you need
  • "span" as a semantic annotation mechanism

Beautiful! Web hackery at its best.

My only concern there is that without a URI to ground the class names (ala the same problem that XML namespaces were developed to address), you run the risk of confusing aggregators when names overlap. Perhaps the HTML profile element could be used, though associating the different profiles with specific class names would seem to require an HTML extension. Hmmm…

Anyhow, while I still believe that RDF will do the bulk of the heavy lifting for the Semantic Web in the long run, cool stuff like this and GRDDL will almost certainly help bootstrap it. Nice job.

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