Blog posts tagged "microformats"

  • August 24, 2007

    Dare: Microformats are not an API.

    I’m on record as a microformat fan — they’re an awesome low impact largely social hack — appropriate technology for a world without APIs. That said I’ve been hesitant to add them to Flickr for the reason that APIs are better: better for us, better for you and I would hate to confuse people about this. That said Operator is the compelling counter argument, and why I’ve been sprinkling microformats and RDFa around the site lately.

    + 3. (Aside, Uncategorized , , )

*Lots* of New Semi-Structured Data

June 21st, 2006

Showed up at Microformats party last night and promptly fell asleep in my drink (long day), but this is the real action. Andy and Y!Local have rolled out hCard, hCal, and hReview to all of Yahoo Local.

And Gordon has whipped up the first microformat -> to Y! bridge with Greasemonkey.


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Boston Holiday Art Sales

November 30th, 2005

Fort Point Holiday Sale: Friday, December 9, 11am-7pm, Saturday, December 10, 11am-5pm

Museum School 25th Annual December Sale: Thursday, December 1, 12-8 pm (Opening Celebration: 5-8 pm), Friday, December 2 – Monday, December 5, 12-6 pm

MassArt’s Annual Holiday Sale: December 5th – 10th; 10am – 7 pm

In other news, it really should be easier to add events to Upcoming, and Markdown needs support for microformats

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MeasureMap Alpha: Review

November 22nd, 2005

I’ve been running the alpha of MeasureMap for a few weeks now, and I thought I’d do a quick brain dump.

First thing you notice? It’s pretty, just ridiculously, gratuitously whizbangy. And that can make it find of fun to play with, in and of itself. Still that Flash can be slow (though not apparently compared to Google Analytics), but really if I was getting the questions I had answered, I don’t think I’d notice.

And as a domain specific (blogs) stats package, they’ve done some nice work breaking up the reports into appropriate discrete units. (I love the daily overview screen you get when you click thru from the timeline and you’ve posted multiple blog posts in a single day)

The Wrong Questions

Maybe LaughingMeme is abnormal, but I have about 10 posts that Google loves so much that (according to MMap) they account for 47% of all my traffic. (and its a power law distribution) In general they aren’t posts I’m all that excited about: year old speculation on Google IMAP brings in hundreds of visitors a day, while Beklin Sucks! has been a perennial favorite, and daily traffic to I’m feeling lucky often exceeds 1000 visitors.

The fact that people are visiting these pages is boring. And the fact that Google is sending them there, day in and day out? Boring.

Show Me the Novel

What’s new? What’s different today then yesterday, this week then last week? Freak outliers, and emerging trends please.

55 Posts About Coffee And Still They Come

Help me out with audience. What brings the readers? What brings the links? What brings the comments? I’ve got my posts marked up with microformat tags, Yahoo has the term extraction API, lets use some of that domain specificity to do something new. (and while rel=”tag” is the only widely deployed microformats currently, more will follow)

Gurchin has got Gads integration, MMaps needs to distinguish by exploiting its specialty.

And Speaking of “conversions”

Any chance of hooking up with Feedburner to allow me to plot subscriber spikes to blog posts? No idea if the data would be compelling, but I know that most of the people in my subscription list got there by writing one really good post. (staying there is harder)

Sources and Fans

You’re tracking links in, and links out, I’d love to see that information compiled into its social mesh.

Quirky Stats Muching AI

Okay, what I really want is an AI that gets a kick out of pouring over the logs all day, and finding the quirky and sublime.

Imagine logging in to be told that “the query ‘bush in freefall’ was your 22nd most popular search yesterday, but your 1st most popular on searches coming from .mil” (true), or “the spike in ‘weather rss’ this weekend corresponded to freak hail storms across the country” (actually I have no idea why that query spiked). But I’m willing to settle for a bit less.

Report Back: FOO Camp

August 28th, 2005

My Foo Camp report back is a little late coming I know, but a few quick scribbles (if I had more time, I’d write less).

A great time was obviously had by all, except for the handful of souls who were too cool for it. I was not among those, self proclaimed web fanboi that I am. To the extent I had no agenda for the weekend it was a wild success, to the extent it could have been even better, I’ve got a few thoughts.

Squid Labs

Squid Labs are my new heroes, its one things to do inscrutable and mind altering hardware hacks, its another to incorporate training, and knowledge sharing for all ages as a core component. Instructables is an awesome attempt to open source knowledge, while Howtoons are just brilliant. The work by Saul Griffith, on self-replicating machines made me wish my math was better, a hard feat. The reality enhancing devices had more of an “oh wow” factor, but what really sealed it for me, is they all travelled up in a modded school bus, full chopped up bikes.


I felt like I saw early potential in microformats, and yet am also sort of late to the koolaid drinking party. The best definition I ever heard of artificial intelligence is that AI is the technology that is perpetually 10 years away, in the sense that once a problem domain has been solved (I believe the germane example at the time was computer vision) it is no longer considered AI. I wonder if the Semantic Web is a similar movable feast, and microformats are one of the first spin-offs.

I was impressed by Tantek and the other folks I met working on microformats in that they deeply understand the power of reuse, and more importantly understand that the social hack they’re pulling off is significantly more difficult then the technical one, and more important. That community/communication focus makes me think microformats will be a winner, and hCalendar is certainly the first standard I’ve ever seen that could enable a simple “add this to my calendar” technology.

When 2.0

Saturday morning we did a mini-calendaring track. Michael Radwin, Adam Trachtenberg, Larry Wall, Ray Ozzie and I spent an hour riffing on timezones, leap seconds, and the dismal state of calendaring libraries. (It was also noted that the Olson database might have a “Postel problem”, in that it is unspecified what happens when the maintainer dies)

We were joined by Andy Baio (Upcoming), Brian Dear (EVDB), Jesse Vincent (Reefknot, Data::Ical), and others for what I think will be an interesting ongoing conversation about the future of calendaring.

What take away was of the morning session was that it would be simple, and very easy to build a RESTful web service access to the Olson DB, keyed by region, lat/long, street address and the desired date. You could even support 304s as all the various change information is captured in the timezone files. Personally I’d also like some way of surfacing the rich, and eccentric commentary also contained in the files.

Other hilights were Quinn’s functional body mods talk (scary cool, get her to give you this talk), the potential of seriously messing with the mobile carriers, meeting a bunch of virtual friends/heroes IRL, Mark Fletcher’s talk on Bloglines’ crawling architecture, Segways, ice cream sundaes, free books, and generally incredibly high level of articulate, communicative geeks.

Self Organizing Technologies (for Humans)

Saul’s presentation on teaching machines to self organize was brilliant, and yet, to me, ironic. By sitting there learning about his work, I was missing half a dozen other sessions I would have killed to be in. FOO Camp is billed as a “self organizing” event, and to the extent that O’Reilly does a good job of providing people, space, food, and something like a rough skeleton it, this is true. But the techniques it used, could use an upgrade, it was very much “Self Organizing 1.0”

But not all self organizing is a like. Burned into my mind is the rugby scrum the first night, as 200 geeks pressed into a small space, trying to desperately scrawl and juggle their ideas across the grid. Many events that shouldn’t have been scheduled against each other were, and if you weren’t willing to push, and kick shins, then you didn’t have much say in when you’re session would be scheduled for. This is the kind of thing that gives anarchy a bad name.

I’ve seen it work better, any number of communities have better techniques, and groups like Aspiration and Blue Oxen are in the business of organizing self-organizing events. If I were to lead a session next year it would on “Self Organizing Technologies for Humans”.

Other report backs

On the wiki

Reviews, Dates, and Microcontent

November 6th, 2003

Slowly digging myself out of the back log from a week offline (expect lots of MLPs).

One thing that happened last week was the release of two very rich new modules for RSS (2.0) that are being batted around the Net this week (both via les).

The Reviews (RVW) namespace “is intended to allow machine-readable reviews to be integrated into an RSS feed, thus allowing reviews to be automatically compiled from distributed sources”.

Over at Deanspace (which is doing a surprising amount of interesting hacking) the Datebook Schema Embedded in RSS (DBRSS) is embedding an vocabulary for discussing very complex information about events including recurring events, location info, event planning (tracks and costs), scheduling (rsvp) requirements, and convener info.

It is awesome to see people really pushing the boundaries of syndication, thinking about new and creative applications that can be enabled by sharing more data in more structured ways. Which is why I felt a little odd at the very similar disquiet both these specs caused in me. As I was struggling to articulate it, I found Bitsko’s Is a Feed the right place for your Data? which sum up the unease quite nicely.

Review data has permanence, it has linkability, it has searchability, it has reusability — why is it locked in a syndication feed for use pretty much only by syndication clients?
(this is less true of events, and perhaps DBRSS is less covered by this critique)

Its a HyperTextual World

Bitsko proposes “freeing” the review information by giving it its own url, and syndicating a link to it. I think this is brilliant, the information at the end of the URLs is a real untapped source of descriptive power, which is why I loved Kevin’s proposed mod_link. (though no one else seemed to) Bitsko demonstrates how if you moved the structured data (e.g. a machine readable review) to its own URL, you could link to it transparently from an HTML document, or any of the various syndication formats, well worth a read.

Don’t Forget the People

A while back I started writing an article I hoped to pitch to on designing RSS modules. I never finished it (and published so many RSS articles, the market seemed played out) but the central idea of the article (in retrospect) was about striking an aesthetic balance in namespaces between readability, and structure. A good rule of thumb is:
Include just enough information in a feed so that an item could be displayed in a meaningful way without having to fetch the remote resource.

There are a few reasons for this

  • RSS has proven that human readable formats get faster uptake; design for the “View Source” style of learning.
  • Fetching and parsing a remote resource is hard for beginners to do well, like all the neophyte PHP hackers in the world who are just wanting to do something quick.
  • Strikes a balance between current, and future usage patterns

Externalizing Reviews

Taking the Reviews namespace as an example, as I imagine myself trying to use it, I think I would want to at least know the title of book as well as the title of the review. This changes the RSS item to read “I am syndicating a review of this book, more information at this URL” instead of just “I am syndicating a review at this URL“.

I support Bitsko’s idea of giving microcontent a home of its own, but lets not sap all of the semantic meaning out of the feeds while we are at it.

Externalizing DateBook RSS

Similarly the bulk of the DateBook schema could be moved an external resource, and the feed could syndication a link to this resource , and the most basic of event information (which is the idea behind modevent). DBRSS even has the advantage that unlike reviews, there are already a number of calendaring/scheduling formats available, and there is no need to invent a new one. (I’m assuming DateBook schema is something new, the name makes me think of an attempt to XMLize the core Palm calendar, but the fields don’t match at all)

Depending on persuasion you have a choice between iCalendar, RDF Calendar, or xCal.

Transient Metadata

You’ll notice (or at least, I notice) that this is a different approach then what I took with my rough sketch of mod
weather (an admittedly much simpler namespace), where I packed all of the information into the feed.

The difference is current weather conditions (and even forecasts) are about the most transient information imaginable. They are also laden with some of the worst, most obscure formats to ever reach wide circulation. There is no added benefit to giving the current weather conditions for this instant in time a home of its own.

More on DBRSS

I think the story on DBRSS is less cut and dry then RVW, I’ve certainly felt the tug of a richer event syndication format myself, perhaps one less unencumbered by Calsch’s years of work. A couple of quick thoughts that came up looking at it.
  • Durations instead of endtimes is a seductive choice, but I’ve found that if you’re storing your events in a SQL datastore, endtimes are much more useful.
  • Tracks I don’t understand, and seem a little off to me. It seems like an attempt to cram a calendar into an event.
  • Wouldn’t it be better to use a geo vocabulary to describe the location, rather then larding it into your calendaring one?

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