Microformats - is this the semantic web coming out of the closet?

Google Maps now uses microformats (specfically hCard).

"What the hell are you talking about Mike?" ... I'm talking about the next fing to make you all go, "Ooooh, clever!"

The Web today ... it's just a bunch of pages that you, I and the guy behind you can read. If it's a particularly modern site then you might be able to write to it as well (leave a comment on this blog, upload your pictures you get the deal). And that's it. Nothing more, nothing less - read and maybe write.

The semantic web takes it the next step. It not only lets you, I and the girl by you read stuff but the semantic web will be in a format that, da da daaaa, computers can read!
Yep, all those SciFi movies are gonna come true.

In essence - not only will you be able to read a web page that contains an address and know it's an address but so will your browser (currently it's just letters and words, could be a recipe for soufflé). Once browsers* and other software understand such concepts they can start to do things with the information - find the distance between address and home, show me on a map, post a letter ... I dunno, anything you/I and the world of developers can come up with.

Microformats is the name given to the standard way of letting both us (humanoids) and computers (electronic-oids) understand bits of content - addresses, people's contact details and many more (list here). This is the base upon which the semantic web will be born - this from Wikipedia:
The semantic web is an evolving extension of the World Wide Web in which web content can be expressed not only in natural language, but also in a format that can be read and used by software agents, thus permitting them to find, share and integrate information more easily.[1] It derives from W3C director Sir Tim Berners-Lee's vision of the Web as a universal medium for data, information, and knowledge exchange.

At its core, the semantic web comprises a philosophy,[2] a set of design principles,[3] collaborative working groups, and a variety of enabling technologies. Some elements of the semantic web are expressed as prospective future possibilities that have yet to be implemented or realized.[4] Other elements of the semantic web are expressed in formal specifications.[5] Some of these include Resource Description Framework (RDF), a variety of data interchange formats (e.g. RDF/XML, N3, Turtle, N-Triples), and notations such as RDF Schema (RDFS) and the Web Ontology Language (OWL), all of which are intended to provide a formal description of concepts, terms, and relationships within a given knowledge domain.

Oh, and Google can also tell you how many horns a unicorn has

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