Sorry, it's late in England. I'm gonna go to bed now :)

How could you know what style to apply to meaningless content?
That's what the style-sheet is for.  We are relying more and more on the display: element of CSS, why not define a well-thought out and 
extensible set of display types to replace the default behavior of many current tags. Want to include flash on your site? define a CSS rule:

flashmovie{ display:flash;} 

and then your document reads:
<flashmovie src=""file://a.c.v/me.swf">file://a.c.v/me.swf" />

Hell, even I know what that means :))

Effective styling depends on document semantics
Wrong, I see the point you are trying to make, but Styling is totally autonomous, It takes pre-defined rules and applies them to a list of tags, the CSS processor in modern browsers shouldn't care WHAT the semantic content of its tags is. 

<div class="h">Foo Bar</div>

.h { font-size: large; font-weight: bold; }
Would you agree that that is a bad idea?

No (except the h doesn't provide any clue to the content) , but it seems silly to use a DIV element, which REDUCES semantics, having no meaning to anyone.  Rather use, similar to that which you suggest:

<mydocument>
<paragraph>
<heading>This Heading Belongs to this Para</heading>
<content>blah, blah, ....</content>
</paragraph>
</mydocument>

This is not meaningless, It is more readable than HTML, to a human.  It may not have semantic meaning, but who needs semantic meaning.

A major factor in the development of microformats is that they reuse existing document semantics, where possible.  They aren't just about making up new class names and relationship values. 
No, they re-use existing Standard formats, where possible, not Semantics.  'Semantics' means 'meaning in the context of a language'.  Take the hCard format, a sample from the specification reads:
<span class="tel">
 <span class="type">home</span>:
 <span class="value">+1.415.555.1212</span>
</span>

How in any way does a span element have semantic meaning? The micro-format adds semantic meaning to the span elements in the example.  Why not remove it. A sample from my imaginary XML hCard format reads:
<tel>
<type>home</type>
<value>+1.415.555.1212</value>
</tel>
Now THAT also to has real semantic meaning in the context of my (imaginary) proposed hCard format, and is easy to read for a human. Oh and it's lighter on bandwidth also. 

"Micro-Namespaces" is a term you just made up, it means nothing.
I DID make it up but NO it is not meaningless, If you take the two parts separately, micro means small(ancient greek, µikros = small), namespace is a defined XML feature.  My point is that When we get to the stage of using pure XML, the namespace and the format ideas could merge to allow a hCard namespace to be defined, if the hCard is a micro-format, then the xmlns hCard(or whatever) could also have a micro- stuck before it.  :)


I understand that this is already possible in most modern browsers but it will never be used or properly implemented unless HTML is dropped as a language.  Worried about screen-readers? I don't see why, the screen-readers would have to parse the CSS to find clues about how to read the content, but then modern ones already do.  :)

Stephen.

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