pageoneresults - 7:47 pm on May 28, 2010 (gmt 0)
I will be honest here: the way I've always designed web pages until now, I never really cared about the implicit outline or sectioning of the page. I never used <h2> or higher and the only reason I used <h1> was for SEO purposes.
It's been part of the HTML protocol since inception. Sure, folks were able to wrap their content in basically anything back then. Times have changed.
HTML5 is an extension of HTML4. There are additional elements and attributes that you can now use to extend the meaning and functionality of your documents. If you didn't use them in HTML4, then HTML5 may not appeal to you. It is all about separating presentation from markup and sectioning documents into logical chunks of metadata that can be read by machines.
There's really not much difference if you're working with the basic elements. The core group of HTML5 Elements that define the semantic structure of your document can be used safely from what I've seen. I have a very small group of sites though so don't run out and make the changeover just yet.
I like to study what the leaders are doing, those who are writing the protocols. Google is involved with the push to HTML5. They use an HTML5 DOCTYPE and are now validating interior pages. I figure if Google is using it, I'm probably going to be okay using it myself down here at this level. ;)
Taking my example above and extending it to show more semantics...
In most instances, left and right navigation elements contain lists of links or other bullet points. There is meaning behind every element you see above when thinking about machine readable content. ;)