[uf-discuss] Format-of-Formats?

Breton Slivka zen at zenpsycho.com
Thu Mar 30 15:21:01 PST 2006

Allow me to point you directly to the GRDDL site.

Along with xmdp, I believe it thoroughly addresses all the issues you  
raise about as well as they can possibly be addressed.

On Mar 30, 2006, at 4:01 PM, Joe Reger, Jr. wrote:

>> before having the arrogance to think they can do better.
> I'm not proposing that we create a replacement for XML Schema or any
> of the other great technologies out there... just that we agree on one
> as the "most frequently used, most standard, most common, baseline,
> generally accepted but not perfect" way to describe a microformat.
> As you note, there are a lot of ways to crack this nut.  And this is
> the fact that I'm having trouble with.  Toolmakers, aggregators and
> innovators are having a tough time with microformats because each new
> one that pops up requires custom code.  Instead of taking a leadership
> role, choosing one and advocating adoption, you seem to revel in the
> establishment of many microformats.  I'm questioning where the
> customization should be... at the user level where apps are
> differentiated?  Or at the format level?
> Why should each format have to start at ground zero, write custom
> plugins, force users to install them and then gain adoption?  Why
> should Technorati have to write custom code at  the format level for
> each format (of course it needs to write custom code at the business
> logic layer... that's how we all differentiate).  If we agree to a
> framework, even with all of the limitations of whatever framework we
> choose, aren't we helping users use microformats more?
> What about the people from National Geographic who want to set up a
> format to track wildlife?  Should they have to understand XML Schema
> to take part in the microformat revolution?  And what about the people
> in middle Iowa who like to count hay stacks?  Should they have to
> learn arcane programming languages just to define a two field
> microformat (hay stack color, hay stack size)?
> I understand your desire to not standardize on a definition language.
> Because doing so will inherently create limitations to what can be
> done.  And some things just can't be done with a basic approach.  And
> those things that gain massive adoption probably shouldn't be done
> with a simple approach.
> I'm talking about the long tail of microformats... who's looking out
> for all those users?
> Users are crying out, on this very mailing list, every single day for
> an easier way to create and use microformats.
> Maybe we should see microformats.org as the high-end solution with the
> flexibility to cover everything. But I think we also need a
> microformats Light that enables most of the functionality that most of
> the people are looking for.
> In the last 5 days I've seen these microformats proposed:
> Bookmark Exchange Format
> Attention Microformat
> Citation Format
> MicroId
> Plants Format
> Work of Art
> Conversation
> Following this list you see these requests all the time.  This week's
> performance would predict 260 microformats in a year.  And really, if
> somebody's posting to this mailing list they're probably hyper-plugged
> in to geekland.  If we think about our users... the millions of people
> we rely on to make all of our geeky stuff actually useful... how many
> formats do you think are out there with pent-up demand?
> I'd say... um...  a lot.
> And how many formats has microformats.org created/sanctioned so far
> throughout its history?  I see nine specs.  Eleven drafts.  Thirty
> seven exploratory discussions.
> That's 21% of the requested formats we're seeing on this board.  And
> I'd argue that it's about .01% of the total number of microformats
> that our users would like to see and be able to use.  Think of all of
> the hobbies out there... all of the interest groups... they all track
> custom data of some sort.  Sure, we don't care about that data type...
> but it's their life... they're passionate about it.  Who's serving
> them?  Who's enabling them?  Who's letting them publish so that smart
> entrepreneurs can leverage that data into the next aggregation
> phenomenon?
> To me this user-oriented analysis paints an obvious argument for a
> format-of-formats.  The current microformat mailing list and developer
> community is doing great work but it's not supporting the users who
> want a quicker means of creating and using microformats.  I could be
> wrong on this... please prove me so.
> Microformats should be the plumbing and grease for this thing we all
> (begrudgingly) call Web 2.0.
> I want to be clear on one thing:  I love the work being done on
> microformats.org.  It is truly valuable and innovative.  The process
> and ideals are wonderful. The people doing the work are collaborative
> and productive.  I am in no way against what's being done.  And I
> appreciate and completely understand Tantek's strong desire to squash
> my ideas quickly before I distract people from the work already being
> done.
> I simply see a big gaping hole in what's being done today.  What I've
> been told is essentially that I can take my hole and go play
> elsewhere.  I don't like hearing that, but there's likely little I can
> or should do about it.  If the users and readers of this list don't
> agree with my ideas and proposals then I should be kicked off.  I
> promise I won't be a nuisance.
> But before I go I'd like to ask everybody whether they agree with me
> in principle:  do you think that creating and using microformats
> should be easier for the average user?  If so, do you think that a
> format-of-formats approach would be helpful wherein a user can simply
> define ten quick fields with XML, upload the file to their blog server
> and start blogging?
> Because there's nothing technically challenging about this proposal.
> As replies to my message have pointed out there are already numerous
> technologies that do this.  All we need to do is choose one and
> advocate toolmaker adoption/plugin development (movable type, live
> journal, drupal, etc).  Choosing and advocating is the issue here...
> not technology.  Something is better than nothing to fill this
> microformat long tail void.
> The ability for users to quickly define formats and use them to
> collaborate, meet, find and innovate is a critical next step.  I'd
> like to help it happen.  Here or elsewhere.  Hopefully here with the
> support of you, the people who actually understand this stuff.
>> I'm working on some extensions for
>> includes
>> (to transclude multiple XMDP profiles or portions thereof into a  
>> single
>> profile), but other than that, I consider XMDP "done".
> Interesting.  I'd enjoy looking at these.  Heck, maybe XMDP is exactly
> the sort of format-of-formats that I'm looking for.  If so, and if
> you're still actively developing it, why am I arrogant for asking
> whether something like it exists?
>> The *one* exception that I know of to this that adherents have had  
>> (at
> least) some amount of success with is RDF.
> Ok, so that's another possible answer to my original question.  Yes,
> RDF is an option.  Again, why am I arrogant for asking about something
> that has had "some amount of success"?
> Sorry for the intrusion today.  Let me know if you're interested in
> working on a format-of-formats with me.  I've already received a
> number of kind private messages from people who say this is exactly
> what they're interested in seeing.
> Best,
> Joe Reger
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