Semantic HTML is the Gateway Drug to Open Data

James Padolsey says that semantic HTML is dying.

What happened to semantic HTML?

He’s right.

For a while the semantic web was all anyone was talking about. You couldn’t turn around without hearing about how important microformats were, or the rel attribute. Remember the fight over the HTML5 datetime attribute?

People used to care about this stuff.

Now, not so much.

Now people care about linked open data (which they should, by the way, I certainly do). But in the fuss, good old semantic HTML has been forgotten. It’s easy to see why. Linked open data is sexy and exciting, everyone cares about linked open data. Hell, some of the most powerful Governments in the world care about linked open data!

In contrast, engouraging people to write better markup just isn’t exciting enough.

But it is still important.

Very important.

Because semantic HTML is the gateway drug for open data.

Many organisations are still unable to contribute to the linked open data project. For them time, resources, understanding, will, exposure and all sorts of other barriers prevent them for ‘making the leap’ in to open data - the concept is too alien.

But semantic HTML. That’s easier step to take.

Chris Gutteridge says that, in putting their information online, organisations are already doing open data, they’re just doing it badly.

Semantic HTML is not doing open data well, but it is doing open data a little less badly.

And “HTML done a little less badly” × “a lot of online information” = “a much better web”.

So, stay enthused about linked open data, but don’t forget that good old HTML still has a part to play.

P.S. The SEO argument also helps too.