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

Jon Tan microformats at gr0w.com
Tue Nov 22 02:50:14 PST 2005

On Tuesday, November 22, 2005, 5:38 AM, Ryan King wrote:

>> 1. Invite Google to [1] Participate in the development of MF 
>> specifications,

>They've always been invited and at least one employee has contributed 

>> [...][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.

>I think they've already said no to this and I don't think they need a 
>special invitation.

Have they said no outright?

>Of course, if anyone here has contact at Google,  you should bug them 
>incessantly until they implement µf's. :D

>Also, we have a good number of formats that need work. It'd be nice  to 
>move some alone, rather than just starting new efforts.

>> 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.

>This is, of course, for google to decide.

...with perhaps a little encouragement on every level.

>> 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.

>You could probalby replace "microformats" with "semantic web" in the 
>previous paragraph and it'd sound much like the stories motivating  the 

>Microformats are great, but don't think we invented the idea of a 
>world-wide web of data, but we provide what is, IMHO, an easier way  to 
>publish structured content.

I don't. I do think that there's a legacy gap in Web usability, that as a 
component of the semweb, MFs are potentilly best placed to fill.

> > Therefore, to achieve that we need 2 things, [1] More MF  Specifications 
> > to implement,

> I disagree. What's wrong with the current ones?

> Have they all been  implemented broadly and effectively?

Searching for products, property and jobs could be revolutionised by MFs and 
immensely valuable for all users, whether they know what the blogosphere is 
or not. If it was ever seriously suggested that until current ones are in 
widespread use others should be on hold or not be discussed it would be 

>> 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  o the 
>> results).

>I have two responses to this:

>1. We already have real, useful applications.

>2. It seems that at least once a week someone says "but we really  need a 
>microformats killer app still." This is an open source-style  community, if 
>you think there's a need, build something to fulfill it.

Don't confuse enthusiasm for a potential result with critisism of the here 
and now. At Grow we are implementing MFs unilaterally and will get to 
experimenting with apps in time and are willing to work with the community 
on any level to facilitate other development.

In the meantime in regard to the GBase question my point was that they have 
their app now. I don't think there's a need to compete but for any possible 
faults it may have in relation to open data formats, GBase will no doubt 
appeal to non technical users outside the blogosphere and perhaps MFs need 
to do the same somehow or at some point?

>> 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.

>We don't have any hReview consumers, but don't we already have some 
>"simple online tools"? Please see http://microformats.org/wiki/ 

I define simple online tools as simple for non technical users as well as 
authors and technologists.

>> 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.

>Of course.

>> 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?

>Uh, why? We have a fast growing community. One which is growing fast 
>enough to cause serious growing pains from time-to-time. Organic  growth is 
>fine, thank you very much.

>> 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.

>Should we have the mythical "microformats killer app" first?

>> 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.

>We taking on a lot of things with microforats - entrenched  technologies, 
>companies and ways of thinking. I don't think we should  add media hacking 
>to that list.

I don't think that awareness building and positive engagement with 
mainstream media who possibly represent a significant webview held by 
end-users is media hacking. It goes to my view that if non-open formats like 
GBase pose a problem then supporting MFs from both sides is logical: 
Encouraging the participation and implementation by authors and 
technologists. Then also identifying the problems non-technologist end-users 
currently encounter and showing how MFs could help solve them. It doesn't 
require a killer app but an explanation of the features, benefits and 
incentives by fictional case study for journalists, non-techies and 
organisations might help. I'd also be willing to contribute towards this if 
folks think it would be useful?

>There's many other things you can do  to help:

>1. publish microformats
>2. write tools which use microformats
>3. educate people about microformats
>4. research and develop new formats

Currently doing or trying.

>> Apologies if I've been unintentionally verbose.

>No problems.

Very gracious of you :)

Jon Tan
microformats at gr0w.com
microformats-discuss mailing list
microformats-discuss at microformats.org

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