[MIX06] Microformats un-meeting
I went to Marc Canter 's Microformats Un-meeting at Mix06 . It was interesting on a lot of levels. First of all, I had some vague notions of what microformats are, but it was great to hear Marc, Tantek, Eric Meyer, and others describe the idea.
Here's the dirt simple microformats elevator speech:
The microformats crowd wants to set up a simple way to share information using some "common law" standards and standard, self-published HTML. Some examples are recipies, job listings, for sale listings, etc. The idea is that I can include a "for sale" listing on my blog, and as long as it's in the correct format, it will get scooped up by "ebay-like" sites that will run my listing. The difference between this and eBay proper is that the data is mine, hosted on my site and on my terms .
As for standards, fugghedaboutit. Rigidly defined standards are hard - everyone argues and nothing gets done. Their plan is to follow more of a folksonomy driven approach - recognize common microformats and promote them.
Easily half of the fun at this meeting was watching Marc's reaction to the hotel security when they asked what was going on. He could have probably pulled off a sweet talking tap dance, asking for 5 minutes or so. Instead, he went with this wacky "We just all happened to sit down at these tables together" defense that brought the security supervisor over in a hurry. I wasn't at all surprised to see that even Marc's technorati article is embroiled in controversy. What kind of uber geek cred do you get for being part of a data format meeting that was broken up by hotel police? I've truely arrived (that's me in the back, standing under the neon sign next to the big pillar - can't nobody take that away from me).
As with RSS, I'm wondering if the total focus on simplicity won't come back to bite us if this really takes off. Are we going to have hundreds of thousands of spiders crawling every page on the web, looking for classified ads and recipes? I hope someone comes up with a good aggregation service that gathers and shares the data.
I took the opportunity to ask Tantek about Technorati's abandoned attention.xml developer center after the talk. Shoulda known, he's moved on to microformats for attention as well. I don't really buy it / get it, but I'm gonna say he's got a better grasp on the attention issue than I do.