Microformats – Work harder not smarter?

March 1, 2007

Help! I am confused. Why is Microformats asking me to work harder? I agree with the objective of providing more semantic value to information, but the implementation seems crude.

After reading the preliminary information off of the official website and the Tutorials on Microformats I understand the following:

– Microformats utilizes prescribed tags to make “web documents smarter”.

– In HTML, the preferred manner is to assign a predefined tag value to a class attribute

– Microformats controls tag creation through a standardization process

– Once the standards are adopted, web developers and web tools can add-on semantic value. Thereby, a web document with an address can easily be mapped in Google Maps or a new contact can be added when a person’s name and phone number is listed. An even more elaborate use allows new search engines to aggregate movie reviews by searching web pages for specific review tags.

The problem I have is I am lazy. And, I think a lot of other people are lazy as well. I do not want to have to add new prescribed values to the content I am publishing. I don’t want to remember the predefined class value for an international address. Of course tools will help this process. Web applications can apply the specific tags when displaying form data. However, the entire approach seems backwards.

Instead of the author defining the context of information, why not build the intelligence into the application itself. If I am reading a web document that includes the words “Scorsese”, “Best Picture”, “2006” the browser should be able to identify the phrase “The Departed” as a movie and provide a function to add the movie to my Netflix queue. Or, suggest a link to IMDB. Or, provide an overlay to movie times via Moviefone.com.

My solution is much more complicated but feasible. As I am typing (or I should say mistyping) words in this blog, the spell checker is underlining misspellings and offering corrected suggestions. Google interprets search terms on predefined topics and formats results in appropriate formats. Try “The Departed”. You’ll get movie times, reviews, and news instantly without any tag values telling Google I am looking for a movie.

So…why do I have to work harder instead of the application? Can we not build more intelligent applications? I recently began using the SlimSearch Firefox extension.With this simple add on, I am now able to perform domain specific searches, which is at least a baby step in the right direction. Semantic value can be achieved if build semantic intelligence.

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2 Responses to “Microformats – Work harder not smarter?”

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