Update (November 12th 2011): Read a reply by Jeremy Keith to this article in which he strongly argues about the importance of pursuing semantic value and addresses issues discussed in the article as well as in the comments here on Smashing Magazine.
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Allow me to paint a picture. You are busy creating a website. You have a thought, “Oh, now I have to add an element.” Then another thought, “I feel so guilty adding a div. Div-itis is terrible, I hear.” Then, “I should use something else. The aside element might be appropriate.” Three searches and five articles later, you’re fairly confident that aside is not semantically correct. You decide on article, because at least it’s not a div. You’ve wasted 40 minutes, with no tangible benefit to show for it.
This is not the first time this topic has been broached. In 2004, Andy Budd wrote on semantic purity versus semantic realism. If your biggest problem with HTML5 is the distinction between an aside and a blockquote or the right way to mark up addresses, then you are not using HTML5 the way it was intended. Mark-up structures content, but your choice of tags matters a lot less than we’ve been taught for a while. Let’s go through some of the reasons why. Read more...