Jump to content
Chris, you’re assuming that the only people worth citing are authors. If you’re dealing with reported speech, you need to cite the person, as there’s no other object to attribute those words to.
The point of the WHAT-WG redefinition is to change <cite> into an element for styling purposes only. (I.e., “Book titles are italicized. <cite> by default italicizes text. Therefore, <cite> should be only for titles.”) If you want to use HTML to apply that styling, then, congratulations! HTML5 gives you two elements (<cite> and <i>) whose only purpose is to say “this is italicized text.”
Because it’s possible to “cite” people in passing as well as in dialog—the list goes on—it would be ideal for the HTML5 specification of <cite> to accommodate the use-cases Jeremy describes. It makes the element more useful: It’s not just a styling hook but something that provides semantic value.