[Moderator: Tantek Çelik (Technorati), Rohit Khare (CommerceNet), Matt Augustine (Microsoft), Brian Dear (EVDB)]
There is a sea change coming in the shift from centralized walled-gardens of data, content, and social-network profiles to a world where the vast majority of such data is decentralized and users have far more control and ownership over their own data. These changes will impact nearly every site on the web as we know it.
Last week I had the honor of moderating the "Decentralizing Data" workshop at Supernova 2006 which took place just one year and one day after we launched microformats.org. Suffice it to say that I was humbled by both the quality of the panelists, and the magnitude of their announcements. This brief summary blogged late at night only scratches the surface. If you were there, please find and note/tag yourself in the photos of the workshop audience.
The presentations and announcements:
See Dan Farber's excellent article:Yahoo Local joins the microformat revolution as well as the Red Herring coverage. Related articles and posts alphabetical by author (let me know if I'm missing yours)
Video coverage and interviews:
Rounding out the photos from @media:
Last September I gave a fairly long talk on microformats at Web Essentials 05. I'm bringing this up now because the first 20 minutes or so of the session were all about archives, persistence, longevity, open data formats, and even touch on email migration (problems with which were
the last straw for Mark Pilgrim). Yes, as I said, these have been driving motivations for microformats for some time. Here is the MP3 of the session (which should show up as a podcast for those of you subscribed to my updates feed). Let me know if this works in your podcast client!
All of these are major reasons why I decided that microformats were worth pursuing, and the time for them had come. Let me rewind a bit.
application/xhtml+xmlthat are often used to discredit either HTML or XHTML (or both) are irrelevant for the most common case of keeping archives of files in file systems.
The microformats principles were based on these observations.
Now this doesn't mean I think microformats will replace existing reliable formats. Not at all. For example, I feel quite confident storing files in the following formats:
For persistent storage of more semantic information, (X)HTML provides us with excellent buliding blocks above and beyond ASCII or UTF8. It is however insufficient to convey many other common text-based chunks of information which are worthy of saving such as contact information, events, and reviews.
Microformats from the beginning in my mind are serving two very important purposes.
As a result of achieving (1), I believe microformats will also achieve (2). Perhaps 15 years from now it will be obvious whether or not microformats have become as reliable as HTML, or ASCII for that matter.
I'm in the middle of uploading photos from @media 2006. Here are a few "sets" in time order:
More coming up.... Watch along at my Flickr stream.
The @media conference sessions wrapped up today. Here are the slides from my presentation: "Microformats: Evolving the Web" that I gave earlier today. Some material from earlier presentations, but a bunch of new material as well. Here are a few early reports and reviews:
Held immediately after my talk, the "Hot Topics" closing panel was a lot fun as well. Stuart provides a nice summary.
The @media conference was run extremely well. Microphones all worked. Sessions started promptly and on time. And the sessions I attended were all quite good. My only complaints were the pretty much non-functional network, and the lack of everpresent powerstrips. I must be getting spoiled by O'Reilly conferences. In any case I had a blast both on stage and off. Meeting and talking with many folks was perhaps the best part. The quality of attendees was extremely high. Great questions too. It was wonderful meeting so many smart web designers and developers who previously I had only corresponded (or Flickrd) with. XFN metroll to follow.
Two weeks since we introduced Microformats Search and it's about time we added a few minor features.
John Panzer wrote and asked for the ability to add contacts and events to his local address book and calendar. Now you can.
Clicking it will download a vCard (.vcf) or iCalendar (.ics) file and open up in your address book or calendaring program, respectively.
Several calendar programs (iCal.app, Mozilla Sunbird, Evolution) also support the ability to subscribe to events feeds as well, and thus on Events Search results, right next to the "add" button there is a small grey button with a couple of ripples on it.
Clicking it will launch your calendar program and provide it a http://feeds.technorati.com/event/ URL that automatically converts hCalendar events to iCalendar events for easy subscription by your calendar program.
These features were of course built with the Technorati Contacts Feed Service and Events Feed Service that were introduced at the Syndicate conference last December. The services themselves use Brian Suda's excellent X2V XSLT transforms.
And with that I must be going since they just asked us to shut down all electronic devices here on my flight to London for the @media conference.
It has been just over a week since we launched Microformats Search. We've averaged about 100,000 microformat updates per day in our first week. Note that those are total updates of individual hCards, hCalendar events, hReviews, etc. rather than pages/URLs. In addition, since we launched Pingerati, several sites have been pinging it with microformats updates. In particular Yahoo! Tech, which publishes all reviews in hReview, has started sending a few review updates. In addition, we've been seeing a lot of individuals pinging with their Flickr profiles, as those are marked up with hCard.
If you're using a service that publishes with microformats, try pinging Pingerati with the URLs of your pages, and then searching for your info to see if it works. It's really easy, e.g. this URL sends an update ping of my Flickr profile:
If you have a Flickr profile, try it! In addition, any time you post an event on Upcoming, or a review on Yahoo! Tech, or any of the other sites and services that support microformats, ping the URL with Pingerati.net. You may want to add the handy Ping This! favelet to your browser toolbar to make it one-click easy to ping any page.
Right now we're indexing microformat updates in anywhere from a few seconds (yes, that fast) to about a minute, so be patient if you don't see your info show up instantly.
Mea culpa. As I knew I would, I forgot to mention some efforts (as is inevitable when mentioning a long list of great folks and services), in particular the great work that Scott Reynen has done with Microformat Base, and he appropriately chided me for it.
Apologies to Scott. I'm making sure he gets the proper recognition.
Almost exactly six months ago Scott launched Microformat Base, an
attempt at a microformat-based alternative to Google Base. It[Microformat Base] is slowly crawling the web looking for microformatted content, and adding it to a structured database, searchable by microformat class names..
The existence and functionality of Microformat Base made several very important statements:
One person, Scott Reynen, demonstrated this in his spare time. Not a startup, not a major competitor. An individual.
Companies take note - on the internet, there will always be smarter, more clever people building on each other's work than your secret internal committees, your architecture councils, your internal discussion forums -- no matter how many supergeniuses you think you may have hired away and locked up with golden shackles in your labs. Either play open or expect your proprietary formats and protocols to be obsolete before they've even seen the light of day.
A few large companies have taken at least some note (and delivered) -- none other than AOL (AIM Pages), Microsoft (Live Clipboard), and of course Yahoo (Yahoo! Tech, Yahoo! UK Movie Reviews, and of course their fledgling darling acquisitions Flickr and Upcoming.org which by the way was the first major event site to support hCalendar last May when microformats.org itself was merely twinkles in the eyes of the microformats community).
As if a demonstration wasn't enough, Scott released his work as open source so that anyone could host their own Microformat Base, or build upon it and make something else (if I had remembered his work I might have been able to get my code finished for Microformats Search much sooner, but since I forgot this was there, I ended up writing all my own code from scratch. Ah well, I have a feeling much of my code will be rewritten anyway ;)
Scott's early work with demonstrating support for parsing and indexing microformats provided a much needed proof of concept that more general microformats parsing was possible, and not that difficult - you can view the source for yourself. Scott even called out both Ryan King and myself in his blog post when he suggested that perhaps an existing web crawler could do something like this to enhance its results. And here we are six months later with Technorati Microformats Search.
While calling out this earlier work, I want also mention that just 10 days before Scott announced Microformat Base, Assaf Arkin released his open source Ruby Microformat Parser on RubyForge with official documentation etc.
By providing a nice fielded search user interface however, Microformat Base let you try pinging it and searching for microformats by specific properties right away, thus enccouraging folks to publish their content with microformats and see them get indexed.
Both PHP and Ruby parsers were warmly welcomed in the microformats community, since until then, Brian Suda's X2V XSLT+PHP for turning hCards into vCards and hCalendar into iCalendar was one of the few open source demonstrations of microformat parsing, and was very much tailored to handle those two microformats in particular.
All this distributed development and effort is what makes the microformats community a community, rather than just another self-proclaimed community/initiative website with a wiki and blog. There are a lot of smart people out there, coming up with great ideas, working together, and building things with microformats. My hats are off to them, to Brian, Assaf, Scott, and everyone else who has written code that supports microformats, it is their work that everyone who works with microformats has benefitted from, and that is enabling the growing ecosystem of open structured data on the Web.