[microformats-discuss] The adoption of syndication feeds -> microformats

Mark Pilgrim pilgrim at gmail.com
Wed Oct 5 14:38:15 PDT 2005

On 10/5/05, David Janes -- BlogMatrix <davidjanes at blogmatrix.com> wrote:
> This is almost exactly analogous to what's happening to microformats
> right now; we are just at the earliest stages of adoption. There's a
> small number of technology-savvy passionate users generating content [1]
> and there's a number of (admit it) privative tools consuming that
> content. One can easily imagine much more powerful tools consuming this
> information -- for example, IMDB [2] collecting reviews from the
> Internet in general rather than from "Usenet".

Or, for example, a major search engine providing an interface to
search for content that meets a certain set of license criteria.


> And I can't stress enough the "little more"/"little effort" part that
> makes this whole thing work. (IMHO) FOAF will be as useful in 3 years
> time as NAPLPS, the ISO/OSI model, or X.400; it will be steam-rollered
> by things people actually do, as opposed to speced.

FOAF is not the best analogy, because, ironically, DanBri's philosophy
towards the FOAF spec has always been "let's periodically crawl every
FOAF file we can find and sort elements by popularity, then add the
most popular ones to the spec."  FOAF has had some moderate success
(Typepad generates it by default), but I think it is hampered by a
separate issue that is one of the guiding principles of microformats:
FOAF data is an entirely separate file that can't be easily browsed by
humans, so it inevitably falls out of date as humans update the stuff
people can see and ignore everything else.  I know I had this problem
when I maintained a FOAF file.

I agree with your more general point that having tools generate stuff
by default makes that stuff an order of magnitude more common.  The
problem is getting there: getting past the phase where the view-source
cult (I mean that affectionately) are hand-editing their templates, to
the point where people start demanding tools that automate it. 
Microformats make that first phase easier, since it's just "a little
more markup" in an existing template, so the markup is more likely to
(a) be manually added in the first place, and (b) be kept current over
time.  Many people underestimate the importance of this phase.


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