Bill Gates at Mix06 – “We need microformats”

Bill Gates is giving the opening keynote here at Mix06, providing an overview of the conference for the 1700+ folks in the audience. After presentations by folks from MySpace and the BBC, Bill invited Tim O’Reilly on stage to have a conversation.

While discussing “Web 2.0″, Tim just said:

…the semantic web is really taking off with the use of microformats.

And in response, Bill said:

We need microformats and to get people to agree on them. It is going to bootstrap exchanging data on the Web…

…we need them for things like contact cards, events, directions…

And there you have it. Bill Gates says we need microformats. We’ve got . We’ve got . Bill also wants a directions microformat. Who wants to start the research for a directions microformat? Perhaps start by documenting and dissecting the examples of directions provided by MSN, Google, and Yahoo’s respective mapping services.


57 Responses to “Bill Gates at Mix06 – “We need microformats””

  1. the ryan king » Bill Gates name-drops microformats :

    [...] I just got into work today, and what do I see? Bill Gates just mentioned microformats on stage. [...]

    March 20th, 2006 at 11:37 am

  2. Jeff Schneider :

    Yea – but remember Bill Gates thought HailStorm was a Microformat. Before Baker goes declaring victory on REST – perhaps we should look at the details; I believe that is where you’ll find the Devil.

    March 20th, 2006 at 3:25 pm

  3. sindikac :

    Very “stylish” name – Mix06 :).. is this some new branding for Bills’ next project or what?

    March 20th, 2006 at 3:43 pm

  4. Nik Cubrilovic :

    This is awesome. Tantek if you get a chance listen to us talking microformats with Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn at

    March 20th, 2006 at 3:53 pm

  5. Tantek :

    Jeff, could you please provide substantiation for your comment? HailStorm was abandoned long before the term “microformat” was introduced. Perhaps let folks know how you how you know what Bill Gates “thought”.

    sindikac, click the Mix06 link and find out. It’s a conference going on right now in Las Vegas.

    March 20th, 2006 at 3:55 pm

  6. Gates 14:00, “We need microformats” at FactoryCity :

    [...] Ok, so that’s not exactly how it went down, but Tantek was there and heard it from Capt Bill himself. [...]

    March 20th, 2006 at 6:05 pm

  7. Bill Gates afirma que los microformatos son importantes at Taberna del Turco :

    [...] Más información en [...]

    March 20th, 2006 at 11:58 pm

  8. Olivier G. :

    About directions and localisation, Dublin Core proposes DC.Coverage.PlaceName. See

    March 21st, 2006 at 12:36 am

  9. Henrique Costa Pereira :

    I really really love Microformats. But I prefer that Microsoft can implement in IE7 the mime-type “application/xhtml+xml” correctly than anything else! It could be a big surprise receive this notice!

    March 21st, 2006 at 3:40 am

  10. Glenn T. :

    It was very good timing for Bill to make this statement, and for you to post it. I was briefing my R & D Director on microformats after being inspired by the SXSWi microformats panel (and the lunch at Las Manitas :-). His first question to me was “what kind of traction does it have?”. I was thrilled to be able to pull Gatsey out of my back pocket.

    I reckon this is how technology evangelists get the attention of execs. By showing them what their peers are doing as well as demonstrating what the technology can do. I am hoping he sees customer worth in pursuing microformats and that I can start working with this community on company time.

    March 21st, 2006 at 1:38 pm

  11. Fred Stutzman :

    That is pretty exciting – the possibilities are endless.

    March 21st, 2006 at 2:19 pm

  12. Channy’s Blog » Mix06에 왜 안 갔을까? :

    [...] Bill Gates 아저씨! 그동안 웹브라우저 개발 제대로 안해서 미안하다라고 솔직히 말하면서, Tim O’reilly가 11월 Web2con에 초청하자 그때는 웹3.0 정도 되겠네요라고 썰렁한 Joke도 날리는 군요. 자기 회사에 근무하던 사람이 딴 회사 가서 열심히 하고 있는 Microformat이 필요하다는 이야기에 Techcrunch 마이클 앨링턴과 점심까지 함께 먹어 주는 여유를 보여 주는 군요. 1년만에 세상 많이 바뀌었습니다. [...]

    March 21st, 2006 at 5:30 pm

  13. Eric :

    Might be worth noticing that there are plans to get some microformat support in Firefox 2.0

    March 21st, 2006 at 6:41 pm

  14. Web 2.0.11562 beta » Blog Archive » tech roundup :

    [...] Did you know you could drag Firefox tabs to re-order them? You could have found this or pretty much any buzz on the web at Bill Gates not only knows what microformats are but says we need them? Maybe he just likes things that start with “micro”? [...]

    March 21st, 2006 at 8:22 pm

  15. me :

    direction: maybe he meant a road-description
    that way it would be a list
    and every list-item would exist of a:
    location (start-point)
    and a direction
    and the last item would only have a location

    March 22nd, 2006 at 6:49 am

  16. Bill Gates ♥s Microformats (8 Ways to Sunday) :

    [...] Bill Gates surprised and delighted a lot of geeky web developer types at the Mix06 conference with his announcement that “We need microformats.” Tantek Çelik was there, and has the details. [...]

    March 22nd, 2006 at 8:05 am

  17. Dorai’s LearnLog » Bill Gates - We Need Microformats :

    [...] With Bill Gates on stage saying that “We Need Microformats” This is great. There is already a search for existing Microformats and a case for   Microformats AutoDiscovery.  [...]

    March 22nd, 2006 at 8:53 am

  18. » :

    [...] Just as interesting as the IE7 release is Tim O’Reilly’s interview with Bill Gates, where they talk about Web 2.0, microformats, business models, future technology and so on. Tim O’Reilly blogged what he was planning to talk about onstage with Bill Gates. And they cover most of this through the interview, if not all – maybe he missed a couple of question. I was a little worried about Gates’s idea of throwing new versions of IE out 2-3 times a year like they are doing with MSN Messenger, but settled down after the Q/A where he explained most of the updates will concern the UI and not the rendering. That would literally become hell, if we had to make support for so many different versions. Apart from Gates going in to different Microsoft software every time he had a chance to do so, it was a good talk, and worth checking out. [...]

    March 22nd, 2006 at 4:37 pm

  19. SignpostMarv Martin :

    Wouldn’t a basic directions microformat just be a XOXO list of waypoints ?

    Drop in hCard into that XOXO, and you have a list of people to pick up at that waypoint.

    Drop in hCalendar into that XOXO, and you have the time of arrival/departure.

    Drop in hAtom into that and you have a road trip diary

    Combine all that and a practical application would be a band’s tour map, showing the order of performances, what support acts there’ll be, and a blog of how the tour is going.

    Drop in some greasemonkey and you could do the cheesy cartoon draws a line across a map thing, accessing pingback/trackback/flickr tag data to display photos taken by fans.

    No need to add direction data into the XOXO as the end app would figure it out.

    Nest the directions XOXO inside hAtom or another XOXO and you can have a list of multiple journeys or routes.

    March 23rd, 2006 at 12:25 pm

  20. The imminent rise of Microformats at FactoryCity :

    [...] It really is only a matter of time before this stuff really takes off. With Bill on the bully pulpit yakkin‘ with TimO about it, dropping references it during the Mix ‘06 keynote, Ray Ozzie pimping them at ETECH, LinkedIn coming to the party, folks misrepresenting core ideas already… I mean sweet! I smell a movement on the march. Tags: bill gates, microformats, mix06 [...]

    March 23rd, 2006 at 11:17 pm

  21. me :

    Indeed the list is a XOXO. But isn’t the format to open, how would you be able to tell that it is defining directions (which is the waypoints and the direction to these waypoints)?

    March 24th, 2006 at 2:54 am

  22. Bill Gates: “We need Microformats” » Revolução Etc :

    [...] Depois de ver a notícia no de que Bill Gates estaria interessado em Microformats fiquei pensando no quanto isso vai alanvancar os micro padrões. Microformats é o exemplo perfeito de como os padrões emergem de iniciativas particulares. Os primeiros usuários são sempre alguns geeks entusiastas até que a coisa começa a se espalhar de forma viral até atingir grandes corporações. Desde que eu comeceu a escrever sobre isso aqui no meu site muita coisa aconteceu. De repentente centenas de sites gringos já estão começando a falar, escrever e utilizar microformats. A Wiki deles está em alteração quase todos os dias com novos conteúdos e exemplos in the wild. [...]

    March 24th, 2006 at 8:27 am

  23. SignpostMarv Martin :

    the storage format would need to give directions.

    Think of it like directions tell you how to get from point A to point B.

    in the XOXO, point A would be a longtitude/latitude reference, as would point B.

    You’d put them on a map, and display a simple line from point A to point B.

    Assuming of course the end directions would be rendered as SVG, it’d be helpfull to have vector curve data in the XOXO, to help limit the amount of way points stored in the XOXO (especially since not all roads are straight)

    What I’m saying is, the XOXO would say “here is point A, head in this direction to point B”, then “here is point B, head in this direction to point C”, then “here is point C, you are at your destination”.

    It should say:

    “here is point A”, “here is point B”, “here is point C”

    Since the data would be XML, the end app would be able to tell if the destination waypoint had been recieved, as there’d be a distinct lack of closing tags if it hadn’t.

    Since my proposal is all based on waypoints and vectors, an SVG or Flash app could be created so that an end user could simply draw a line across a map- creating the waypoints and the vector information in one fell swoop (after a little bit of optimisation for shakey hands). The user could also drop little flags in for the manual creation of way points or hAtom posts.

    PS I tend to think in abstract, but we’re all geeks here so I’m sure someone understands what I’m on about :-P

    March 24th, 2006 at 6:59 pm

  24. SignpostMarv Martin :

    PS, I meant “wouldn’t need to give directions”, not “would need to give directions”.

    March 24th, 2006 at 7:02 pm

  25. SignpostMarv Martin :

    It’d be handy if there was a comment editing feature, since I keep noticing mistakes in my comments:

    “What I’m saying is, the XOXO would say” should be “What I’m saying is, the XOXO shouldn’t say”

    March 25th, 2006 at 6:35 am

  26. Tim O'Reilly :

    Just to be clear, Bill’s mention of microformats does not mean that there’s a major Microsoft initiative in that area. I had to pre-submit my planned questions to Bill, and he originally didn’t want to include the microformats question. But when I met with him the night before, this was actually the most animated part of the discussion, with him at first saying “What’s new here? We’ve had vcard for years,” but eventually seeming to grok that getting this over the wire as an RSS or web services payload changed the game considerably…and realizing that his man Ray Ozzie was already going deep here. So by the next morning, he seems to have had a considerable turnaround, and thought more about the subject, so when I threw the question in anyway, he had a solid response. I really do like the idea of a microformat for directions! That could be huge, and could lead to a bottom up, distributed version of NavTeq, which would be very disruptive.

    March 25th, 2006 at 1:14 pm

  27. Gyms get computerized (but only halfway there) | :

    [...] So how about it, Marc? Phil? (who had supercool “/run” but still makes cool stuff at “Make:”. Or Robert?: Your boss seem to understand that we need microformats. We need a format for training! Get people out of their chairs! Hightech training for everyone! [...]

    March 25th, 2006 at 3:51 pm

  28. SignpostMarv Martin :

    I was thinking far too abstractly earlier, I’m working on an examples of what I was referring to earlier (just a little less abstract).

    March 26th, 2006 at 7:06 am

  29. SignpostMarv Martin :

    Since wordpress strips out some of the stuff, I’ve had to upload the examples to my geocities account.
    Contains my idea for a directions microformat that include links (using Google Maps) to each way point.
    Contains my idea for a directions microformat that is just data, storing the longitude and latitude in a compact <ol>

    Apologies in advance for those of you about to look at the source code who don’t have Adblock installed :-P

    March 26th, 2006 at 9:23 am

  30. SignpostMarv Martin :

    A fuller example, what I referred to could possibly used as a bands’ tour map can be found here:

    it’s not completed at the time of posting, as I have to pop out, but the basics are there.

    I couldn’t test it’s compliance with hAtom 0.1 as seemed to be down.

    March 26th, 2006 at 10:18 am

  31. me :

    You also have the waypoint and direction SignpostMarv Martin. The waypoint is in the title-attribute and the ditection is in the tag.

    March 26th, 2006 at 10:09 pm

  32. me :

    ditection should have been direction in my last post.

    By using the title-attribute you have no visual feedback of your waypoint.

    March 26th, 2006 at 10:20 pm

  33. me :

    XOXO -> direction: which can be a more specific XOXO.
    abbr tag for the location (same logic as a date in other microformats (should get a standard title-format fot locations though).
    to-class for the actual direction.

    On 5th Avenue
    you take a U-turn.

    When you get to Central Park
    you take the first on your left.

    Where you can find W 59th Street, New York
    you take the first on your left.

    March 27th, 2006 at 1:28 am

  34. me :

    And now a second try for the actual code:
    <ol class=”direction”>
    On <abbr class=”location” title=”5th Avenue, New York, NY, USA”>5th Avenue</abbr>
    you <span class=”to”>take a U-turn</span>.
    When you get to <abbr class=”location” title=”Central Park, New York, NY, USA”>Central Park</abbr>
    you <span class=”to”>take the first on your left</span>.
    Where you can find <abbr class=”location” title=”W 59th Street, New York, NY, USA”>W 59th Street, New York</abbr>
    you <span class=”to”>take the first on your left</span>.

    March 27th, 2006 at 1:33 am

  35. Ryan :

    Hey marv-

    This is great work, but we have a process for creating microformats. Have a look at the description on the wiki.

    March 27th, 2006 at 7:03 am

  36. SignpostMarv Martin :

    I’m looking over my experiments, and what I’m getting is this:

    Make the foundation of the directions microformat a XOXO as I did in the mock ups, OR make it a self contained hCalendar including the geo data.

    A self contained hCalendar makes a lot more logical sense. I’m not above calling my ideas stupid (designing code is boring, making it and realising it’s stupid afterwards is more effective).

    I’d suggest using rel=”map” to define a link pointing towards a map such as those I used in my quick mock ups.

    The geo data should be stored explicitly, so the file could be used for computer readable data exchange- drawing maps, feeding data into a foreign language mapping service rather than translating the directions in the class=”summary” element.

    The start, end, and any “via” points should be explicitly specified using the adr format, rather than just a simple string. This would be to get around the issues of one mapping services’ road data not being as up to date as anothers.

    Waypoints shouldn’t need to be explicitally stated, since all the user cares about is the places they put into the application (the start, end and any via points)

    I’m also thinking that alternate routes should probably be specified as seperate calendars, with the end app doing the figuring out of where one route branches off and connects with another, unless you could figure out a way of doing something with the tenative event status to track alternate routes.

    March 27th, 2006 at 7:31 am

  37. Ryan :

    Hey guys, this discussion is great, up it’d help if you take a look at the microformats process.

    Before proposing a microformat, we always do a bunch of research on who people are currently expressing the data on the web. We also analyze current formats and standards.

    Only then do we get to proposing a format.

    We’ve found that this method, though perhaps tedious, has a enough rigor to produce good results. Please consider taking this discussion to the mailing list and wiki.


    March 27th, 2006 at 7:37 pm

  38. DL Byron :

    Thanks for this post, it helped us write about microformats in our book about business blogging. We’ve also just added an hCal and hCards and XOXO to or book blog.

    March 28th, 2006 at 4:12 pm

  39. Pig Pen - Web Standards Compliant Web Design Blog » Blog Archive » Bill Gates - We Need Microformats :

    [...] Bill Gates – We Need Microformats [...]

    March 31st, 2006 at 4:17 pm

  40. We need Microformats. at Carbonite Life :

    [...] According to Bill Gates, “We need microformats.” During Mix06 in Las Vegas with Tim O’Reilly. share thisThese icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. [...]

    April 1st, 2006 at 8:27 pm

  41. Diário de bordo #7 » Revolução Etc :

    [...] Bill Gates: “We need Microformats”. Primeiramente no site Microformats e no Factory City. [...]

    April 3rd, 2006 at 8:15 am

  42. Bill Gates and microformats, Blockquote - On Information Architecure, Usability and Web development :

    [...] …we need them for things like contact cards, events, directions… Bill Gates at Mix06 – “We need microformats” [...]

    April 9th, 2006 at 10:13 pm

  43. ConsensusBlog » Blog Archive » New Technorati Tool :

    [...] Here at ConsensusBest, we talked about using Microformats to structure our product recommendations which will be the result of aggregated expert and user reviews from across the Web and all media. Because our prototype site is already very lightweight in terms of design as well as how we structure our information, we decided to stick for now with our current data scheme, but Microfromats have a lot of promise for presenting diverse data uniformly (heck, even Bill Gates is a fan!) And the sleek new Yahoo Tech site is implementing them as well.  [...]

    June 1st, 2006 at 9:12 am

  44. Put Together Quickly by Michael Biven :

    [...] With AOL, Yahoo, Microsoft and others adding microformat support information between the sites and applications we use will be hopefully more freely interchangeable. Discussions on the way information is accessed between direct competitors have already started. So maybe we will stop referring to applications as either “desktop” or “web” and just call them applications. [...]

    June 23rd, 2006 at 6:58 am

  45. Learning the World » Blog Archive » My @media 2006 day two :

    [...] When microformats are even on the radar of Bill Gates, how could I ignore them? I had no clue before Tantek Çelik’s presentation @media 2006, and now I’m implementing them in this post. Microformats are virulent. [...]

    June 25th, 2006 at 5:14 pm

  46. Tangled Branches, Roots and Shoots » Blog Archive » microformats - cool for sticking stuff together. :

    [...] Chris Messina is the guy that’s been pushing Microformats in Flock, and if the rumours are anything to go by, we’ll be seeing more of Microformats in the future, in other browsers ™. [...]

    August 7th, 2006 at 11:24 pm

  47. plainasm » Microformat dreamin’ :

    [...] Most of the folks using my recent customers’ sites haven’t heard of microformats, and forget about Tails or any other Firefox extensions. Most of them know Firefox as “that browser that’s trying to take on IE.” The more tech savvy among them will have heard that Bill Gates said something about “we need microformats,” but won’t necessarily know what that means.2 [...]

    August 15th, 2006 at 7:20 pm

  48. Stefan Hayden » Blog Archive » Top 5 Ways To Make Me Cry :

    [...] SEOmoz suggests using the <address> tag with no mention of the hCard microformat. In this day and age after even Bill Gates is talking about microformats it’s a topic that should not be ignored. [...]

    August 16th, 2006 at 5:43 am

  49. Why Microformats - Introduction to Microformats :

    [...] Bill Gates and Tim O’Reilly recently jousted over them at Mix06. Tim concurred that microformats are driving the semantic web, and Bill called for more usage and further agreement. [...]

    October 24th, 2006 at 8:11 am

  50. Microformats Usage at The Gong Show :

    [...] I ask because I find it odd that there is so much passion from the Microformats community (even Bill Gates expressed enthusiasm last year at Mix ‘06), yet I do not experience any noticible benefits. Anyone having experiences to the contrary? [...]

    January 4th, 2007 at 8:20 pm

  51. Techie’s Corner » Blog Archive » Promise of Web 2.0 and eLearning 2.0 - Comparison to Macros, IDEs, and Visual Basic :

    [...] Of course, we are still working on the wiring and the platforms. On the wiring side, we have Microformats – Bill Gates at Mix06 – “We need microformats” and a lot happening in Identity and Security (which are big issues). [...]

    February 7th, 2007 at 12:58 pm

  52. chad lindstrom’s blog » Blog Archive » Microformats for Accesibility :

    [...] The folks over in the Microformats camp have not only been discussing microformats focussed on addressing accessibility issues, they also have a significant Microformats adoption and following already. Heck, even Bill Gates agreed, we need Microformats. [...]

    February 8th, 2007 at 10:34 pm

  53. Julian On Software » What are Microformats? Microformats for busy people :

    [...] Bill Gates says: ” We need microformats and to get people to agree on them. It is going to bootstrap exchanging data on the Web… we need them for things like contact cards, events, directions…” [...]

    February 19th, 2007 at 7:08 am

  54.   Les microformats, un premier pas vers un web (plus) sémantique by Encore un blog ! :

    [...] L’ajout de microformats est un premier pas vers un web (plus) sémantique. Les prochaines générations de navigateurs (Firefox 3.0, le futur Internet Explorer (Bill Gates says “we need microformats”) etc) seront capable d’interpréter les microformats. D’ores et déjà, des extensions pour Firefox (Operator, WebCards) permettent d’afficher des microformats contenues dans une page. Ces extensions permettent, par exemple, de copier un évènement hCalendar vers Google Calendar, importer une hCard vers son carnet d’adresse, afficher une adresse dans Google Maps… [...]

    May 1st, 2007 at 2:37 am

  55. De volgende web (r)evolutie is hier (bijna)! « futtta’s blog :

    [...] De doorbraak Microformats bestaan ondertussen 2 jaar, maar er zijn een paar stevige redenen waarom de doorbraak er in 2008 zit aan te komen; ze zitten dus in Firefox 3 en Internet Explorer 8 zal die vermoedelijk ook ondersteunen (Gates gaf zijn zegen in 2006). Er is overigens nu al een microformats extensie beschikbaar voor Firefox 2; Operator, ontwikkeld door een IBM-developer, dat kan ook al tellen als geloofsbrief. Operator vormt overigens de basis van de microformats-ondersteuning in FF3. [...]

    July 23rd, 2007 at 4:55 am

  56. Bill Gates at Mix06 - “We need microformats” :

    [...] Bill Gates at Mix06 – “We need microformats” Bill Gates at Mix06 – “We need microformats” Bill Gates is giving the opening keynote here at Mix06, providing an overview of the conference for the 1700+ folks in the audience. After presentations by folks from MySpace and the BBC, Bill invited Tim O’Reilly on stage to have a conversation. While discussing “Web 2.0″, Tim jus… Read the full post from Microformats via Blogdigger blog search for at+the+gates+myspace. [...]

    January 31st, 2008 at 6:38 am

  57. Jeffrey Zeldman Presents : Saved from the deep :

    [...] Bill Gates at Mix06 – ìWe need microformatsî [...]

    February 24th, 2009 at 1:55 pm