[Semi liveblogged - patchy network today]

How do we get information?

Example: trying to find out what movie is good to go see.

  • Who do we trust to review a movie?
  • Can we trust centralised systems like IMDb?
  • Who owns the reviews?
  • Can we verify that the reviews are real?
  • Can we verify that they haven’t been modified since the author created them?

We want to tap into the wisdom of many people.

  • Try google? No, too many results and no reviews in the first few pages anyway.
  • Try aggregators? Blog searches? Not really working.

So we could write a review search engine, but how to identify a review? How do you get a consistent review scale?

People are really good at getting information from a surrounding context, but software is really bad at it.

Do we wait for the W3C to deliver all this and more with XHTML2? Do we invent new XML languages?

Microformats can provide this structure and allow search tools to access and index the info.


  1. simple
  2. html based
  3. data formats
  4. based on existing standards
  5. based on current developer practice

...their purpose is to bring richer semantics to today’s web:

  1. it doesn’t break browsers
  2. it doesn’t break pages

“Great technology needs to be adopted. But it’s chicken and egg. So we do have a chicken – no, wait, which one does come first?”

They are in use – technorati is a really big, well-known user of microformats but there are many more out there.

Get the Tails extension for Firefox and check out the web directions sites.

John finished with an example of using hCard, to show how easy it is.

“I’m always really scared when I type URLs in directly on screen… I’m not sure what you’ll see in my history!” – JA

“Sure I’m a geek but that’s COOL

What are you waiting for? They’re out there, get involved. Use them!

John just won “first person to pimp their book”…

Q: What’s the process for getting from idea to microformat?

There’s a detailed process on the microformats wiki; it starts with logical questions like making sure there’s a problem to be solved.