[uf-discuss] Happy New Year! Microformats in 2006.

Tantek Ç elik tantek at cs.stanford.edu
Sun Jan 1 11:30:02 PST 2006

Microformats community:

Happy New Year!

2005 was an incredible year for the growth of microformats, in terms of
specification, implementation, and overall awareness.  The microformats.org
community has produced some incredible results in just over six months of

2006 looks like it will be even bigger.

In addition to tidying up details on well established microformats like
hCard and hCalendar for contacts and events, and minor iterative tweaks on
drafts like hReview for distributed reviews, I see the following new
microformats coming to fruition in the next few months (things happen too
fast around here for me to make predictions for the whole year ;)

1. hAtom will become relatively stable by the end of January.  Given how
much energy and discussion is going into hAtom on the microformats-discuss
list, the level of interest it has *already* developed across blogs, and the
incredible potential uptake, the time for getting this right is real soon
now.  See here for the latest:


2. hResume will be drafted.  There has already been a lot of research and in
the wild experimentation with an hResume format.  There has also been
significant brainstorming led by the good folks at SimplyHired.  At this
point it is only a matter of a few folks taking their notes to the wiki.
Stay tuned:


3. A listings/classifieds microformat will be drafted.  In addition to
significant research into listings (for sale / wanted) examples, formats,
and brainstorming, there has been a wider awareness of the potential of
fully distributed listings/classifieds on the Web.  For now, take a look at
the research and please add anything you think is missing:


4. Recipes?  Several different folks have now raised the possibility of a
publication/interchange format for recipes on the Web.  While certainly this
is of interest to any person who likes to cook and try different things
(yours truly included), it's not clear yet if this has the broad
applicability which we like to see for new microformats.  Nonetheless, it is
worth at least documenting the existing examples on the Web and formats to
see if there is something simple that can be proposed.  Thus we start with:


5. Media Info.  Formerly known as media-metadata.

Side-note rant: One thing we should all resolve to do in the new year is to
strike the word "metadata" from our discussions as much as possible.  It is
a theory/abstraction-focused word and thus frames discussions and designs
very poorly.  Instead, let's base our discussions and designs on what users
are actually used to, and a focus on and user centered design.  You don't
see menu items that say "Get Metadata", you see menu items that say "Info"
or "Get Info" or "Properties...".  Data is data.  What matters is whether
the user cares about the information, not whether the data is meta or not.

Back to media info.  It seems that nearly every smart person (and especially
domain expert) that attempts to solve problems in the space of media info
ends up falling into the traps of complexity and over-design.  Just look at
the current background research.  Media info on web pages is sorely in need
of a SIMPLE microformat which describes the 80/20 of information about a
particular piece of media and nothing more in v1.

This is perhaps the most challenging of the above 5 new microformat efforts,
and truly requires a serious breakthrough in how we think about media from
the *user* perspective, rather than a programmer's perspective.

One hypothesis: we need actual users of media who are somewhat technically
savvy, rather than media info domain experts (who seem to have a 100% track
record of falling into the aforementioned complexity and over-design traps),
to help brainstorm and model what people *really* publish about media on the
Web.  Will that be possible?

I want to see this happen.  I'm not a media info domain expert.  If I have
to, I'll jump in myself and be draconian about the simplification.  I'm
hoping that at least a few of the experts out there are tired of the
complexity and over-design of previous/existing attempts (including perhaps
the attempts by their own companies), and would at least entertain and try
simpler approaches.  In the interest of a fresh look focused first on
simplicity and minimalism, here is a start:


Interested in helping make these new microformats a reality?

Join the microformats-discuss list, check out the #microformats IRC channel
and contribute your thoughts, ideas, research, and brainstorms:


I'm very much looking forward to what you have to say.

Here's to a great 2006!




hAtom      http://microformats.org/wiki/hatom
hCalendar  http://microformats.org/wiki/hcalendar
hCard      http://microformats.org/wiki/hcard
hResume    http://microformats.org/wiki/hresume
hReview    http://microformats.org/wiki/hreview
Media      http://microformats.org/wiki/media-info-examples
Recipes    http://microformats.org/wiki/recipe-examples

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