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Microformats – John Allsopp

How can technology make people’s lives better?

John has a 10 month old daughter; he doesn’t get out much. He wants to see a movie, but what good movies are out right now?

  • Centralized solutions – Someone owns this data, we have to trust them not to be biased.
  • Search – 38,000,000 results for the movie title, first 30 contained no reviews
  • Standardized data formats help software understand what we mean – semantic markup.
  • Standardized data allows more mashups – combining maps with info about people has already proven very popular
  • Open source, open standards for document formats getting more important and more popular. Open data is the next step; an important step at that.
  • You publish in one format, I publish in another – the result is neither of us can make use of each other’s data.
  • Formal standards take a long time to be adopted, if they ever are. “So many carcasses litter the road to XHTML and XML”
  • Web has developed as an evolutionary process – build upon what we already have. This is the approach microformats have taken
  • Microformats work with existing tools and existing development practices. Encourage decentralized development and content. Distributed data.
  • Current microformats: hCard (vCard), hCalendar (iCal), hReview, hListings for classifieds; many more.
  • Tag microformat has become very popular – you can point to an internal tagspace, or use an external service such as Technorati
  • Big sites are starting to adopt microformats – Yahoo Tech has started using hReview for product reviews. Reviewers of products listed in hCards
  • Web Directions South and North sites are microformat rich – hCalendar, hCard, tag etc.
  • Cork’d and are more examples of real world use of microformats.
  • FireFox Talis extension offers a great way of finding embedded microformats
  • Brian Suda has written a service that takes hCards with GEO data and creates a Google Maps mashup. (sends KML to GMaps API)
  • Microformats allow new solutions – the more microformatted data we have, more options will present themselves.
  • Shows example of hCard; while the content-to-code ration drops, it’s for a good reason – we’re making the content more useful to machines. Shows converting of hCard to vCard to allow import into address book using a web service. John demonstrates importing entire Web Directions program into iCal.
  • sure, I’m a geek; but that’s COOL
  • More information –, John has a book coming out in early 2007

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Three days of talks, two of them in the engineering room. Web Directions you have broken my brain.

Cheryl Gledhill Product Manager, BlueChilli