[uf-discuss] FYI: Jeff Jarvis on microformats and Google Base

Jon Tan microformats at gr0w.com
Mon Nov 21 17:20:35 PST 2005

> <tantek at cs.stanford.edu>> wrote:
> Wow that's an amazing article.  Thanks for passing it along David.
> I think Jeff makes a lot of good points.
> Before stating my own opinion, I would like to first ask the community:
> How do you think the microformats community should respond to (or 
> otherwise
> engage) Google Base?

Hello to all.

This is the first time I've felt able to offer a contribution to the list 
outside the arguments I have about MF in my head. I feel that the MFs 
community response could contain the following:

1. Invite Google to [1] Participate in the development of MF specifications, 
possibly in line with some of their existing categories (many have been 
discussed here, e.g. Jobs, reviews, events etc. I would add some others too: 
Property, products, services... the list is endless.), [2] Consider 
integrating MFs within GBase as they become specified to allow submission of 
MFs described data (possibly by something as simple as by URI) and 
extraction of it.

The issue of an API and whether it is closed or open may be depreciated if 
the data that Google Base will hold is in Microformats and could possibly be 
aggregated in other ways anyway? Supporting MFs input and output may also, 
in the long run, be a way for GBase to be more comprehensive and useful.

2. Engagement by example around, 'humans first, machines second': The work 
currently being done, regardless of Google Base, is probably the most 
important work I've ever witnessed. Either on a networking level within our 
respective industries or a development level. One day I hope that MFs will 
be a core component of every file delivered via http, and as such, every 
piece of data will have relative value as an aggregated and meaningful part 
of the human information matrix, not just intrinsic value in the file or 
domain that holds it. I imagine something as simple as my Mum posting her 
recipes to her own web site (or even something like GBase) and having them 
included in a MF aggregation matrix of all human food recipes ad infinitum. 
I imagine her accessing a MF aggregation tool to find others recipes or even 
adding others' recipes in MFs from web pages to a, 'book' of her MF recipe 
bookmarks. 'Microformarks' anyone? Or even Microfootmarks! It's a glorious 
thought and makes me smile.

Therefore, to achieve that we need 2 things, [1] More MF Specifications to 
implement, and [2] Software to show real use benefits for the human beings 
who not only want visible information on the page, but a way of posting that 
information for themselves and aggregated information from infinite numbers 
of pages too (without SEO Spam getting in the way of the results).

The latter is becoming more important IMO; Technorati etc. have demonstrated 
the power of real world aggregators in evangelising a single MF or MF type 
idea. The possibilities are endless but perhaps we need a few simple online 
tools developed in tandem with a given specification (e.g. around hReview) 
that can demonstrate the practical implications how powerful MFs can be for 
everyone. A day in the online life for all would change beyond recognition 
if data was described by Microformats, and then aggregated for distribution 
and use. Then the case  for MFs will be made stronger by having more 
*useful* results of aggregated MF data for non-technical users.

3. Lastly a question: I believe that MFs may well become the most 
significant factor in the development of the Internet since Google itself. 
Maybe even since search engines themselves (which I believe MFs may come to 
threaten in certain instances). Is it time to consider engagement with the 
mainstream press on a more active level? I have in mind that whenever there 
is a mainstream press article being written about the Internet, MFs should 
be on the list of subjects to mention. A BBC commentator said the other day, 
'the Internet is mostly full of rubbish'. A sweeping perception but 
nevertheless a lay person's view; Valuable, meaningful data from MFs could 
negate that view. I believe that when anyone who uses the Web (not just 
industry journalists) can realise the potential significance of MFs by 
examples and then conversion to the cause is automatic. It just needs 
evangelising. Anything I can do to help I will.

Apologies if I've been unintentionally verbose.

Jon Tan

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