[uf-discuss] Microformats search engine: virel

Dan Brickley danbri at danbri.org
Mon Jul 7 12:13:15 PDT 2008

Brian Suda wrote:
> 2008/7/7 Angus McIntyre <angus at pobox.com>:
>> Christian Heilmann wrote:
>>> That's got nothing to do with microformats ...
>> With due respect, I don't completely accept that. A case could be made
>> that factors that influence people's adoption of microformats are
>> legitimate topics for discussion. Uneasiness about the 'spammability' of
>> addresses published in hCard is a deterrent to full adoption of that
>> microformat for many users.
> --- the argument is orthogonal to microformats because this is not
> unique to microformats. Any time you add more semantic information to
> your data it potentially increases the 'spammability' of it. This goes
> for RDFa, eRDF, RDF, POSH, microformats, RSS and anything else might
> come along in the future.

Yup. And we need to get much better (across various of these projects) 
in making clear to users what's going on, including the bad things that 
might happen. If user understanding and consent is handled better, 
downstream sites will know what they can or can't do with the data.

Some examples:

1. tribe.net FOAF was repackaged on ex.plode.us; users freaked out:
	What is ex.plode.us and have we been sold out?
	topic posted Thu, February 28, 2008 - 6:02 PM

Result: tribe.net switched off their FOAF feeds. This could just as 
easily have been microformats.

2. Google Social Graph API (XFN and FOAF)
The Google SGAPI makes it much easier to find out who the owner is of a 
YouTube account. This is currently relevant due to the Viacom/Google 
court case, in which Google have been asked to turn over all YouTube 
viewing logs, including both IP address and usernames. The judge took 
the view that the latter are essentially anonymous, despite the fact 
that the SGAPI makes it rather easy to associate YouTube URIs with FOAF 
and microformat data from elsewhere in the Web.
Details here: http://danbri.org/words/2008/07/03/359

3. identi.ca, twitter-like microblog (opensource as laconi.ca)
This microblogging platform encourages users to attach a Creative 
Commons license to their postings, which should give downstream 
aggregators a clearer sense of what can and can't be done with the data. 
We lack similar practice for FOAF and microformat content.

Where I'd like to see this go, is via some survey of users, figuring out 
how rich an understanding of the situation we can expect of them (not 
much I fear) and some attempt to make a CC-like simplification through 
which they can express their preferences about how their profile data is 
aggregated and re-used. Considering the Tribe case, it would be nice if 
users could've said "no commercial reuse (including banner adds)" unless 
x% of profits go to <http://charityofmychoice.example.com/>. But we're a 
long way from that now. If the only concrete affect on users is spam and 
confusion, we'll find outselves back with data hidden in GIFs, I fear...




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