Microformats vs the Semantic Web?

So during Xtech there was certainly some underline tension between different tribes (as Molly calls them). XHTML 2.0 working group vs the newly opened HTML 5 working group, old skool application developers vs the nu fashion framework developers vs the rich internet application designers, xml lovers vs json lovers. But one of the most interesting clashes was the Microformats tribe led by Jeremy Keith vs RDF/A lead by Steven Pemberton. When I say clash I really mean a little ribbing here and there but yes it was noticeable. There wasn't a showdown like BarCampLondon2, no that would be silly (smile).

Well its not over by a long shot. When Jeremy shot the video above using my camera at the end of Xtech, I was impressed. The fact it can be done with one extra plugin is great and testment to the Microformats movement. However in the same breath, I was talking to Andy Budd and as he had attended the session about XHTML 2.0? session. He had a new respect for the hard work and hard decisions the W3C have to make everyday, he just wished it could be more open and a little quicker. Another thing happened just after Xtech to do with this debate. Uche who wasn't at Xtech (missed you Uche, but met your friend) posted up a blog entry to put some dynamite in the debateTom Morris has a good response to Uche.

I did a interview with Steven Pemberton and Michael Smith both of the W3C, I want to put it up but it needs a little editing and encoding. I ask some tricky questions including the debate over microformats but whats interesting is Stevens point about the Canvas element. Apple developed the specification then tried to pass it through the W3C. The W3C looked at it and pointed out that it was totally in-accessible. This is the reason why the W3C are very important when looking into the future. They have the long term view in their sights. We may moan about how slow things develop but there quite accepting of Microformats now, and I'm sure even Steven will smile when he see the video from Jeremy.

We're all working in the same direction, lets never forget that…

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A great overview of my talk at Xtech


Its funny to see an overview of my presentation, pipelines: plumbing for the next web in the Guardian. Its is good to confirm my talk did make sense and did make a few people stop and think.

As Ian says, APIs open the silos. APIs are application protocol interfaces and make it easy to pass data between applications and websites. Web services also have revenue models such as Amazon S3. Feeds are everywhere. Widgets and gadgets are starting to become useful. There are the Semantic Desktop projects. The most interesting data is online but it's also on your own computer, bridging the worlds of the internet and one's own computer.

Ian thought someone had to have built this, and then he discussed applications and services that came close to his idea, Touchstone/Particles, Automator and Yahoo Pipelines.

Touchstone/Particls is based on many inputs and outputs. There is only one input type: RSS. It is completely XML driven. It takes all of these RSS feeds, puts it through its own attention engine and then spits out more ordered information including flagging up really important things.

Automator makes it very simple to automate tasks. It has a powerful GUI, levels of abstraction. It plugs into the web, but it's proprietary. It's only on the Mac.

Yahoo! Pipes is the next service Ian reviews. I've used it. As a matter of fact, I used it to create a combined RSS feed of several showbiz and fashion blogs for our Lost in Showbiz blog. It is really, really easy to use, but Ian says that there is no underlying definable language. I find it slightly difficult to understand some of the operators as a non-coder. But that's probably just the limits of my own understanding.

Ian has his own idea for an application: Flow. It allows access to the local file system and anything connected to it. The Flow system has all of these things on the desktop such as applications but also a host of web services such as Twiter, Blip.TV, Technorati and Yahoo. Instead of using a traditional GUI, he suggeted using a widget.

Flow doesn't currently exist. It's not an application. It's not a service. He has partially built it. He uses RSS Bus to pull in XML files and turn it into RSS. It pulls in Jabber, Outlook, output from all kinds of applications. He then uses Apache Cocoon and Widgets. But it's not quite there. It usually crashes.

He wants Flow to be definable, graphical, standard, shareable, open and non-proprietary.

I like Ian's ideas, and I'm not just saying that because he's a friend and former colleague. I am beginning to use the web like this, although Ian is doing this on a more advanced level than I do. But as he says, novices can use other people's widgets or pipelines. This is already happening on Yahoo! Pipe. And people with little idea of programming can actually look and learn at other people's pipelines.

You can already chain together little web widgets and pipelines that do simple analysis to sift masses of information online. I wonder how useful it is for most users. Well, it's not even whether it is useful. I guess it's how much people are willing to invest in creating their own little apps.

But we are moving to a web where people aren't just creating content but also creating widgets, simple, small easily developed applications.

Quoted from the Guardian, but there's more worth reading. Also Kevin has a review of some sessions at Xtech including a video of moi on the stranger blog. I also captured some videos which plan to release on the backstage blog very soon.

Ok enough blogging from this great cafe.

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BBC watching what others are saying

Imp (her name not a nickname) has an extremely detailed post about the BBC iPlayer. I'm going to reserve all judgment till the final thing comes out, plus I shouldn't really be blogging about work things I guess? Some people have asked if I'm on the trial, well I'm not because to tell the truth, I honestly don't need a PVR like service like this.

Seeing how were talking about the BBC, I thought I'd also mention Ben Metcalfe's post about BBC Future Media and Technology (what use to be BBC New Media). I'm officially part of BBC Innovation and Development (I hope thats the correct name) which is slightly different but not far remove. Its sad whats happened to the BBC, but honestly there is no point crying over the dropped beer now. Its what we do in the future which matters now.

I also do not feel trapped in the BBC, I choose to work for the BBC and although I could maybe go somewhere else and earn tons more money. Its not about that for me. Me and Ben have had this debate many times. He wants to run a successful business, while I'm not interested in running my own business or even being a freelancer. Currently Ben and others seem to think the only way this will happen is if they go to America. Fair enough, but I think there in for a shock as the internet becomes truly more global. And this is not me being bitter, if I wanted to go to the states tomorrow, I could get up and leave (if I can convince Sarah to go back). I was never in the industry to be a rockstar, I find rockstars and popularity very boring. My aim is to only change the world one step at a time.

Next month sees my 1 year anniversary since leaving the BBC. In that time I’ve had a turbulent time – moving to a new country, helping to start a business that I later left because it wasn’t heading in the direction I wanted to see myself go. But in that time I’ve felt a sense of freedom and opportunity that I never felt within the BBC – even when I was given the ‘greenlight’ to do pretty much what I wanted… the constraints placed upon the BBC were always still there.

Funny enough, I found out that Paul Hammond also joined the Yahoo Flickr team recently. Congrats to him, honestly. I actually wanted to get on video why he felt the need to go to the states.Most of the guys I followed into the BBC including Paul, Ben, MattB, Kim, Matt Jones, Plasticbag, etc. Have all gone off and worked for other great companies. They have all remarked on how different things are outside of the BBC. Well currently this is more negative that positive. But mark my words, in a few years that will change and the BBC will be where everyone will want to work.

Lastly while talking about the BBC ( I really need to change the title of this blog post from BBC iPlayer covered like no one else to BBC watching what others are saying) Miles Metcalfe (not related to Ben Metcalfe in anyway) wrote a short entry which I meant to cover a while ago.

informitv reports BBC appoints Microsoft man to control future media. I am reminded of DEC and AltaVista, and why you will have heard of Google, but not AltaVista

In the same story, news that James Cridland will become head of BBC future media for audio and music. I've met James, and he's a nice guy. But he thinks the iPod is a closed platform. Possibly not the sort of person you'd want taking long-term decisions about DRM and BBC audio content, then.

Well technically the iPod is a open platform but its got elements of closedness which makes it not as open as others. I think James will make a great head. The fact he actually reads the debate which happens on Backstage and was trying to setup a backstage like project at Virgin Radio is huge. I know people with large pay packets who still don't understand backstage. I for one will be looking forward to seeing him around and working with him in the near future. I would be lying if the other comment about DEC didn't give me a chill, well observed Miles.

meta-technorati-tags=tv, bbc, catchuptv, pvr, trial, beta, iplayer, imp, benmetcalfe, jamescridland, milesmetcalfe

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