Kragen recently said to me that
In my post on The Web Way, I mentioned having dinner with Tantek, which led me to rule 6,
Where it's useful, they should embrace microformats, a/k/a lowercase semantic web.
Tantek talks about a Microformat Manifesto:
- Markup should be as simple as possible.
- Markup should be droppable into as many formats as possible.
- Development should be decentralized.
The manifesto would also make a compelling case for how The Awesome Power Of XML is best harnessed through tiny X(HT)ML dialects usable for specific purposes. I agree; I've noted in the catablog post (and the accompanying comments) that RSS is the single-biggest-real-world-useful example of TAPOX, and RSS is useful because it is tiny (and therefore easy to embed in applications as an input/output format).
Tantek talks with enthusiasm about the philosophy of microformats:
- Keep the formats simple. It's worth repeating because this is the whole point of microformats: they must be easy to learn and use. As Kragen noted, using an XHTML dialect offers escaping and presentation control, making it easy to embed such formats in web pages with minimal effort.
- Pave the cowpaths. Only create a new format to serve an existing application.
- Get rough consensus and running code. Implementation in scripting languages such as PHP, Python, and Perl is paramount to adoption.
- Get adoption by "real people". Only then will semantic X(HT)ML move beyond theoretical discussions.
Tantek also talks with enthusiasm about a collection of microformats that represent the philosophy of microformats well:
- RSS for simple syndication (though the jury is still out on its progeny, especially Atom, which seems to get more complicated as it goes through committee despite fine leadership).
- xfn for human relationships (using the rel attribute; note that using rel is also an easy way to extend Creative Commons metadata).
- GeoURL for location (using simple <meta> tags).
- hCalendar for calendar events (mapping the commonly used iCalendar format to XHTML).
- hCard for address books (mapping the commonly used vCard format to XHTML).
- XOXO for outlines and blogroll-like subscriptions.
- Attention.XML for keeping track of what you've read, what you're spending time on, and what you should be paying attention to.
The Chairman and Founder of CommerceNet, Marty Tenenbaum, asserted his belief in a recent brainstorming session that
There are maybe twenty simple schemas that cover 80% of the potential uses of data in collaborative commerce.
Marty often conveys his enthusiasm for the ongoing social software trend to increasingly facilitate improved E-Commerce. When thinking of Tantek's and Marty's visions, I'm excited that thoughts on catablog suggest that there are opportunities to create microformats for products -- perhaps the music, movies, and books that fill up peoples' typelists represent a good place to start.
Update, January 2005. Technorati has set up a MicroFormats page on its wiki to summarize these issues going forward...