semantic web Archives - Broken Links Archive

The importance of semantics on the web

We, as web­site mak­ers, quite often advise our clients to avoid gener­ic link text (read more,click here, etc.), and explain that more ver­bose descrip­tions help give con­text to users with screen read­ers. But using seman­tic link descrip­tions actu­al­ly helps everyone.

I recent­ly read Peter Morville’s fan­tas­tic book, Ambi­ent Find­abil­i­ty, which defined real­ly well the moti­va­tion to use seman­tic descrip­tions for links: they give the tar­get page about­ness.

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Discussing, implementing & improving HTML5

I don’t think I’ll be going out on a limb if I pre­dict that the hot top­ic of 2009 will be HTML5, the pro­posed update to the markup lan­guage which acts as the foun­da­tion to every­thing we (web mon­keys) do.

This week saw the pub­li­ca­tion of a few arti­cles on the sub­ject writ­ten by respect­ed mem­bers of our indus­try. While a lot has been writ­ten already about the poten­tial of the new lan­guage, these are notable for their more prac­ti­cal approach.

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hAtom implemented site-wide

Just imple­ment­ed phase one of my mark-up plans, by imple­ment­ing hAtom across the site; you can check it with Opti­mus, although be aware that it’s Opti­mus that’s pro­duc­ing the errors, not me! Of course there’s no mas­sive ben­e­fit in my using hAtom at the moment, but a lit­tle fur­ther down the line I’m sure I’ll be grate­ful — plus, it’s good practice.

IE8’s WebSlices — another practical Microformat

One of the new fea­tures already announced for IE8 is Web­Slices; essen­tial­ly, the abil­i­ty to sub­scribe to any part of a web page, even if it does­n’t have an RSS feed. It sounds some­what sim­i­lar to Fire­fox’s Micro­sum­maries fea­ture*, although it’s a) eas­i­er to imple­ment, b) more flex­i­ble, and c) not buried in the brows­er where no-one could ever find it.

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The Microformats vEvent that wasn’t

Hav­ing missed the open­ing par­ty, my intro­duc­tion to Lon­don Web Week was last night’s Micro­for­mats vEvent. Unfor­tu­nate­ly it was­n’t a good intro­duc­tion, for two reasons;

First (and fore­most), it was­n’t real­ly about Micro­for­mats. The first speak­er talked about RDFa and GRDDL, the sec­ond about RDFa and FOAF.

Sec­ond, the pre­sump­tion was that we had an extreme­ly high lev­el of tech­ni­cal knowl­edge; a pre­sump­tion that was­n’t true, in my case at least. I’m fair­ly new to Micro­for­mats but I have a pret­ty good idea of what they’re about; both talks went over my head any­way. And my poor wife, who’s learn­ing about them for the first time, had no idea what was going on.

The descrip­tion of the event said:

We hope that no mat­ter your expe­ri­ence lev­el, you’ll find the evening infor­ma­tive, enjoy­able and inspiring. 

I did­n’t. In fact, it may well have been counter-pro­duc­tive for me; it took a sub­ject I’m excit­ed about, and made it sound com­pli­cat­ed and boring.

I’m sure that some peo­ple would have got a lot out of it — the man next to me who’s study­ing for his pHD in arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence cer­tain­ly seemed to enjoy it — but I think the organ­is­ers should have been more hon­est about the tech­ni­cal knowl­edge required, and saved some atten­dees a bit of time.

I did get a book for ask­ing a ques­tion, how­ev­er, so it was­n’t a total loss.


I’ve updat­ed my Speak­ing page to include more con­fer­ences, more videos, and a lit­tle on my speak­ing require­ments and pref­er­ences. I’m plan­ning to cut down on the num­ber of talks I give in 2014 (twelve is too many), but am always open to inter­est­ing offers and oppor­tu­ni­ties, so please get in touch if you’re organ­is­ing an event.

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