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hNews & rNews: The Pros and Cons

By   /  May 10, 2011  /  No Comments

Idea Lab recently wrote about the struggle between hNews and rNews.

Idea Lab recently wrote about the struggle between hNews and rNews. The article states, “We started, back in 2008, with a problem: Very few online news stories had consistent, machine-readable information about their provenance (i.e. basic stuff like who wrote it, who published it, when it was first published, etc.). This was a problem because without this information — or metadata — it was incredibly difficult to differentiate news from other content on the web, or to figure out where news had come from. We searched about for a solution to the problem, thanks to grants from the Knight and MacArthur Foundations, and found not one but two. The first was microformats — which are straightforward, open mark-up formats built on existing standards. The second was RDFa, a method of embedding full RDF, the linked data language of the semantic web.”

The article continues, “The Associated Press came to a similar conclusion, and together we developed hNews. Our pragmatism has so far borne fruit. The hNews microformat has since been integrated in about 1,200 news sites in the U.S. This means that there must now be a hundred-plus million news stories on the web with hNews. And, the AP has based its new news registry business and its forthcoming rights clearinghouse around hNews. This did not stop some semantic web evangelists from waving their metaphorical red-hot pokers, or from suggesting we were not born of parents in wedlock or other less warm and fuzzy responses. So, when we learned that the IPTC were launching an equivalent of hNews in RDFa we were over the moon. Hooray! Now people have a choice to mark up their news in microformats or in linked data.”

It goes on, “’Equivalent’ is not quite right. rNews is more ambitious than hNews. If hNews is like a ham sandwich then rNews is like a baked Alaska. rNews covers lots of aspects of provenance and content. You can, if you want to mark up additional aspects of news stories, mix-and-match rNews with other RDF ontologies (i.e. different linked data vocabularies). It’s also more ‘correct’ than hNews, but as a result more verbose and intrusive. It’s a much bigger change to existing HTML pages than hNews. That said, it is, by RDF standards, pretty straightforward. All this makes it a very good alternative way of creating consistent, machine-readable mark-up for news.”

Read more about the pros and cons of each tool here.

Image: Courtesy Flickr/ KC Toh

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