Supernova: Microformats

Tantek Çelik, Technorati, hCard and hCal

Microformat principles

– solve a specific problem, e.g. XFN, XML solves a wide range of problems simultaneously. Microformats such as tags solves a specific problem

– keep it simple

– evolutionary improvements

– design for humans first, machines second. Semantic web is about making the web more machine-readable

– adapt to current behaviours

– reuse from widely adopted standards

– modularity, embeddability

– decentralised development, content, services; but also includes centralised publishers. not either/or.

vCard and iCal – common, but not XML, so not suitable for the web. Are XML or RDF variants, but no one uses them. Can’t be easily embedded in XHTML, can’t be easily displayed.

hCard and hCal – mapped 1:1 into XHTML, using same terms, same schema.

Date formats are a nightmare, so uses human presentable time and date instead of machine-readable ones.

Tantek uses hCal to put his events on his blog, and there’s a little script that sends his events to anyone’s calendaring events. Which is actually really cool.

Tantek’s slides.

Michael Sippey, Six Apart, hCal

Experiment, using MT to keep a timeline of major events throughout the year. Annotates journals with weather info and major events, but no seasons on the West Coast, so can’t do the ‘snowing then, so must be April’.

MT produced ATOM, RSS1.0, and iCal feeds.

Joined MT because of possibilities for microformats and micropublishing, particularly aggregation and discovery. People can publish different things in different formats but can still aggregate them.

In personal blogs, people like to talk about what they have done, movies, music, books, etc. so put that with microformats and thus you end up with hReview – a format for reviewing things.

Strip down core data elements of a review by looking at existing reviews – Amazon, Yahoo, blogs, etc. What data elements are necessary?

Tools make it very simple. MT supports ability to override the default app template, so can customise the way that it displays, e.g. title becomes item, category becomes rating, body text becomes review text. So simple enhancement of MT and some template tags, one creates a review which is a div class in the template.

Usable for job listing, events, competitive review, and people are customising MT, creating new plug-ins to do this, but applications are going to (are being?) built to aggregate small bits of information.

Real cute little hCal in MT app by Les Orchard that puts the hCal fields in the MT entry body. Nice. Gets integrated into the tool so that it’s really easy to create micro-content for distribution on the web.

Kevin Marks, Technorati, Tags

Tags – different way of organising knowledge. Trad way is hierarchical where each thing has a place. From Aristotle. Like shelving books.

E.g., picking categories for Yahoo Groups can be difficult because it’s got a high cognitive load – have to think about where things belong. Even faced with categorising photos – iPhoto has a keyword feature which no one uses because it’s all hierarchical. Flickr, however, allows you to decide on your categorisation from the bottom up, so it’s a lower cognitive load.

This means that you actually do it.

Dynamic categorisation wins. Apply it to blogs. Blogs have categorisation works in the abstract, and categories are exclusive, if it is in one place it’s not in the other. So people end up either not using categories or using one or two. Most popular category is ‘general’.

So Technorati tags picks up existing categories, but wants an easier way. Easiest way is by links, but must distinguish between linking to something to talk about it, and linking to create a tag. Visible links promote good behaviour, prevents gaming. Decentralised linking.

Use rel='”tag”, so can link to anything. Because it’s simple, people can easily write plug-ins for different tools. Fits in well with other formats like hReview and xFolk.

Kevin’s slides.

Technorati Tags:

Supernova: Connected Work

Cydni Tetro and Tom Ngo, NextPage

Missed most of this presentation, although what I did see looked really interesting – it’s a way to version-track MS Office documents from user to user so that you can easily tell who has created the latest version, which edits were made by whom and when. Considering the mess that can be made by several people editing the same document at the same time, and the fact that wikis are not always appropriate for long or complex documents, this software looks like a really good app.

I didn’t see, however, a way to actually amalgamate concurrent edits, and someone has just asked that exact question. You still have to make the edits manually but the system will help you compare documents so that you can incorporate changes.

Greg Lloyd, Traction Software, on Enterprise Weblogs

– Email’s perfect for point-to-point communication, but really bad for collaboration.

– Blogs are good for conversations extended over time.

– Good for situational awareness, and aggregation from many sources.

– Scales like the web to handle the largest enterprises.

– Can cross the firewall: internal blogs; external limited access blogs; external open blogs.

Question: Is it possible to over-codify enterprise blogging with too much in the way of permissions and management. How do you ‘Scobleize’ an intranet?

Answer: Most intranets are open to the majority of people within a company, but where permissions become useful is when one is crossing the firewall and dealing with off-site stakeholders like contractors or clients.

Point: Is there an issue with culture – if everyone doesn’t play then you have a problem. There are plenty of people who aren’t into blogging, so the concept of people commenting and reaching out to others and creating a record of interactions can be greatly reduced if people are too busy.

Question: People look at blogging software in competition with collaboration software. Hard to get senior people to blog [externally], even though they me prolific writers as they see external writing as the job of the marketing department.

Answer: How do you differentiate between collaboration [from blogs]. The most powerful force is people’s expectations of what they could do, and those are set by what they are seeing on the internet. If they see things being done within the public web, then they want to do the same thing on the intranet.

Point: Blog content is richer than simple collaboration – more context.

Point: Easily scaled.

Reining in the demon note taker

It’s all about flow. I think that’s what it is. The reason that I frequently take such ‘insanely intense and accurate notes’, as Tom put it, is because when I am just listening to something I don’t really hear it, but when I am transcribing it I listen at a whole new level. The conversion of sound to words makes me hyperfocus and I slip into this delightful state of flow where my fingers are moving as fast as they can over the keys and I’m entirely embedded in the transcription process rather than being a mere observer of the session.

At Supernova, though, I am not going to be able to do this other than very occasionally. Partly because it’s a three day conference and my fingers would wear out, but partly because I’m going to be hanging about in the back channels, in preparation for the closing round table of the conference on Wednesday in which I am participating.

This is probably a Good Thing. Firstly, it saves you from long and tedious verbatim blog posts, and secondly it means I’ll actually be sociable, instead consumed by my demon note taking obsessive-compulsive alter-ego.

Anyway, if you spot me, please come over and say ‘Hi!’.