[uf-discuss] Granddogma Goes to Bar Camp

Chris Messina chris.messina at gmail.com
Sat Aug 25 10:04:18 PDT 2007

On 8/22/07, David Janes <davidjanes at blogmatrix.com> wrote:
> On 8/21/07, Tara Hunt <horsepigcow at gmail.com> wrote:
> > This is an awesome post and goes back to a discussion I became very
> > frustrated in a while back:
> IMHO, the ideal state of the end user is they see (for example) Tara's
> name on a webpage and they just click to copy the microformat to their
> address book. Underneath, they don't care how all the plumbing gets
> there to make this work, they just do the action.
> What will they call this action? When most people use technology, it's
> all just magic words: TCP/IP, HTTP, HTML, e-mail, hook up the cable
> modem, push the brake peddle: simple invocations that refer to using
> technology that underneath _they really have no idea how it operates_.
> Our job as technologists is to make using microformats as magical as
> that.
> As to nomenclature, "Microformats" is as good a magic word as any
> other proposal I've heard, and probably better than most.

I would agree with this. I also think, to this point, the writer of
the post is probably not the ultimate audience of microformats the
community-generated spec, but would be a consumer of the benefits that
detection and support in the browser would bring.

Wherein lies the crux of that post and Tara's comment -- there is
still far too little benefits being derived from all the advocacy work
that we've done to spread microformats in the wild. We may be getting
somewhere with portable social networks and with the support coming in
Firefox 3, and I do tend to take the long view with microformats, but
I still feel like they're seen by many as novelty formats with few if
any tactile benefits (filling up one's address book is certainly
semi-magical when compared with the old copy each line, one at a time,
method, but it's not exactly mind shattering).

Therefore, I think that this post serves to remind us that our work
has only barely begun -- and that microformats are not yet human
consumable because the interfaces to support leveraging their presence
in webpages have not yet saturated our web tool infrastructure.

We've made plenty of progress in a short amount of time but I'm still
eagerly awaiting and anticipating when we change the pH balance of the
web and everywhere you look there's an HTML-contained, microformatted
data object waiting to be moved around seemlessly between desktop and
web, between platform to platform, between client and server, and from
person to person.

As I've said about something else recently, I don't think that
"microformatting the web" is something that can be achieved; I do,
however, think that it is a process and a mindset and an approach to
solving large scale problems with the greatest amount of benefit and
the most minute cost.

Ultimately microformats do not solve a technological problem; they
work at solving a deeper and harder social and political problem --
that is, the freedom and portability of our data... in order to make
strides in that effort, we must change minds and help people to
understand both the validity and importance -- and utility -- of
ultimately having that kind of control and influence over the data
that we create and discover.


Chris Messina
Citizen Provocateur &
  Open Source Advocate-at-Large
Work: http://citizenagency.com
Blog: http://factoryjoe.com/blog
Cell: 412 225-1051
Skype: factoryjoe
This email is:   [ ] bloggable    [X] ask first   [ ] private

More information about the microformats-discuss mailing list