semantic web — 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.


Aside

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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