[microformats-discuss] Re: Educationg Others

Mark Pilgrim pilgrim at gmail.com
Wed Oct 5 12:06:08 PDT 2005

On 10/5/05, Danny Ayers <danny.ayers at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 10/5/05, Mark Pilgrim <pilgrim at gmail.com> wrote:
> One thing I do find a little curious. A large proportion of systems on
> the Web have a long tail distribution - there's value in the
> thousands, millions of little thingies, not only the top 10. So I'm a
> little surprised to find so many people around these parts prepared to
> write off edge cases as so much cruft. As the Web grows, surely the
> sum of specific cases approaches the general case..?

This reminds me of the classic quote from the economist Maynard
Keynes: "In the long run, we are all dead."  In the general case,
everything on the web is just 1s and 0s.  But there's millions of
LiveJournal users who all have a profile page, hundreds of thousands
of Typepad users who have an "about me" page, tens of thousands of
company websites that have a "contact" page, and 40,000 Avon ladies
who have a personal homepage with their contact information.  Lots of
people maintain address books, and lots of people post contact
information.  Wouldn't it be nice if just a few of them marked up
their contact information with hCard?

Microformats are about finding commonalities (even in "the long tail",
especially in "the long tail") -- things lots of people are *already
doing anyway* -- and making them 1% better to get 1000% more out of
them.  If three people in the world post a picture of their albino cat
jumping over a fence while wearing a sombrero, I don't think we need a
microformat for that -- both because no one is doing it, and because
there's no value in finding it.  If 10,000 people started doing it
*and* there was a sudden upsurge of interest in distinguishing
pictures of fence-jumping sombrero-wearing albino cats from pictures
of fence-jumping fedora-wearing albino cats, I'd think about maybe
marking it up in some common way.

I hope this answers your question, which I have long since forgotten.


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