SXSWi 07 Notes: The Growth and Evolution of Microformats

The following are my panel notes from SXSW. As I am not the fastest typer I have paraphrased what was said. Should you notice any mistakes please do point them out in the comments for corrections.

Frances Berriman Volume

Michael Kaply IBM

Glenn Jones Creative Dir, Madgex

Tantek Çelik Chief Technologist, Technorati

Guest Speaker: Jeremy Keith - clear left

2003 started with XFN

Wordpress etc


Up till then it was all being done on Technorati on a wiki.

We got Dan Cederholm involved and he created a logo and the site launched in 2005

Flickr added microformats - geotags etc.

Technorati added a parser

ODEO marked up their audio with MF.

Stanford has now added microformats onto the University site.

MK: I investigated creating a plugin for FIrefox that takes this info and allows you to do something. Operator - gives you options for you to do stuff with Microformats. So I can look at upcoming from a web page tagged with SXSW. Then form upcoming I can add the event to Google Calendar and then I can also look at the location on google maps from upcoming as the events have geotags.

On linked in I can export an hCard of someone as they use hResume. It also exposes XFN relationships.

This brings together XFN and hCards. The XFN and hCards can be viewed through Operator. I can also add the contacts to outlook or to my Yahoo contact list.

In microformats we look at providing access to the information and Operator lets you get that information out.

TC: What do you think the possibilities are of getting MicroFormats into Firefox.

MK: We hope that the more people see what can be done with Operator that they will see that Microformats should be part of the Browsers.

GJones: Backnetwork. This site was originally developed for a d.Construct. It's built for the delegates. It's similar to most social network sites, you sign-up and you can see all of the other people that are attending the event. All of the contact information is marked up with Microformats and I can export all of the hCards. You can create a relationship by clicking on a contact and the interface has all the options to determine your relationship to XFN.

I can also see all of the incoming relationships to me. Tagcloud shows the weghted relationships between people. Based on mutual relationships. After d.Construct we saw that the relationships went up by 30% which is interesting.

I've also used m icroformats in the reviews section of the site using hReview. You can also pick a license e.g. Creative Commons.

I was interested in being able to aggregate reviews from elsewhere. I then realised I could already do that by agregating blogs RSS feeds. When I import the Blog feeds I can parse the feed and extract structured information from the feed.

One of the things that I'm working on now is a way to simplify sign-up so that if you input a url e.g your blog the script goes and gets all of you contact from your site and allows you to implement.

FB: The communty has people form all different backgrounds you might not even need to know about HTML or even Semantics. The process starts with a basic idea and a name. The community would then recommend that the person goes and researches the idea and looks for related info on the web. If it's not a good idea they might vanish. If it is a great idea that person will come back with a lot of research. Very few new ideas make it. There are a limited number of current drafts.

Sometimes we will argue with people. If we were up here presenting 100 new microformats it's likely we would fail.

TC: One of the reasons that HTML is successful is it's simplicity. In the microformats community we are trying to use exists standards and specifications.


Q: Where's Operator

A: It's on download it from here as the number is tracked. For the latest get it from

Q: What about the existing work dine in ontology in the Semantic Web.

A: Too many things even the Semantic Web do too much to re-invent things that already exist…

Q: Is anyone creating a search engine for specific microformats.

A:, edgio have put hListings onto their site. In addition you can ping them with the url of your hListing so they can aggregate it into their database. There's also an Alexa contact search. Based on hCards.

Technorati has produced a search for hCards hCalendars and hReviews.

Q: What about micrformats on .mobi domains.

TC: We have a Special guest panellist for you Jeremy Keith

A: Specifically you shouldn't have TLDs for specific devices. The people that came up with .mobi were smoking crack.

JK: A different version of Tails export was made with a bluetooth export facility by John McKerrell. It allows you to add contacts to your phone with bluetooth. (ed: This extension only works with bluetooth on the mac as far as I know.)

MK : Operator will tell you when a microformat is invalid.

Q: Is there a way to use microformats from the bottom up.

A (JK) : It is possible to use microformats as a read only API. (Ed: See Drew McLellan's WSG presentation on Microformats as your API podcast here)

A (GJ) I've been investigating this through building backnetwork. I think there's a lot of interesting stuff possible with being able to read information.

Q: what about getting spam by publishing hCards

A (TC): use OpenId you don't necessarily need to put stuff out there publically.

A (JK): I think the spam thing is a red herring as using microformats doesn't mean you should publish something you didn't before.