Battle for standardization continues

January 5, 2007

I read an interesting post over on Alex Faaborg’s site today about microformats and how Firefox 3.0 will be using microformats to change Firefox into a “… an Information Broker.”

Much in the same way that operating systems currently associate particular file types with specific applications, future Web browsers are likely going to associate semantically marked up data you encounter on the Web with specific applications, either on your system or online. This means the contact information you see on a Web site will be associated with your favorite contacts application, events will be associated with your favorite calendar application, locations will be associated with your favorite mapping application, phone numbers will be associated with your favorite VOIP application, etc.

This is going to change the way we interact with data on the Web, and it’s something that I am going to be blogging about all this week, stay tuned.

I find this to be as exciting as it is frustrating, all in the same breath.  Ok, so microformats could be the future, it could enable us to truly “write once – use everywhere”.  Some of the examples from the article which get me heated are:

For instance, if you want to sell something, you can blog about it using an hListing, and a site like edgeio will find it when it aggregates classified advertisements across the Web.

Similarly, the microformat hReview allows the creation of review aggregation sites, and XFN (XHTML Friends Network) allows the creation of social network aggregation sites.

When I first started to understand the search process (back when you had to “tag” your sites on Yahoo with a form and Webcrawler was the only “spidering” web site out there) I was promised that we would be able to place “xml” style tags or “semantic” markup in our HTML which specialized sites and search engines would pick up and treat differently.  For instance, a site that would go out and collect information about products would be able to compare 10 online book stores prices for a book if we put something like <isbn-10>1590593812</isbn-10> in our HTML.  The web browser would ignore it but the site would catalog the results and offer comparisons.  That was in 1996.

Now take some more semantic style searches like say at a government site.  I worked with APR Smartlogik on a great project which highlighted Europes advancements in standardization.  Essentially, the UK governement mandates that all pages on a governments public facing web site have meta content which complies with eGMS standards.  Compliant pages have special meta tags which have content tagged against the IPSV taxonomy which allows smarter search engines to index content better.  If you have every tried to find information about when trash is picked up or where the town compost drop off is located then you know what I mean.

I guess my real gripe is that this is all good but let’s get there already.

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4 Responses to “Battle for standardization continues”

  1. mikull Says:

    just because i like playing your devil’s advocate, allow me to put up a brick wall. well, maybe just a sheet-rock partition: privacy?

  2. notronwest Says:

    Oh, please do tell.

  3. mikull Says:

    anything interacting with my os, and personal applications says something to me like: let us in. sure, some website wants to dynamically place the next rock concert i browse at ticketmaster on my google calendar because i had a click quota of interest– but in the meantime, it’s still looking at my calendar, somehow. and data is getting compiled when you open up your apps to friendly sites in this environment, no? is it not plausible to think that this would be exploited?

  4. notronwest Says:

    sorry I forgot to write about this…

    I don’t think that I was clear enough on this post however they go together so I am adding my additional thoughts in a new post:

    See my thoughts here


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