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Tuesday, November 04, 2003
Concise and compelling

Dave Pollard on the World of Ends as it applies to business. I'm sure Doc Searls and David Weinberger would love it. (Don't miss Gary's comment.)

What do you think? []  links to this post    10:31:47 PM  

Liz has been blogging from the Internet Librarian conference. Lo and behold, there's an entire track on blogging!

What do you think? []  links to this post    10:02:54 PM  
Structured blogging: first steps

In "Towards structured blogging" I wrote about how blogging tools ought to evolve in a way that allows structured data - such as product reviews - to creep in. Stefan Smalla had similar thoughts around the same time. Marc, ever the true believer in the value of extensions to the blogging paradigm, has been pushing those ideas as hard as he could for quite some time.

Assuming people increasingly care about controlling their own content, such a development could (among other things) help build a decentralized, open store of product reviews which might in the long run prove disruptive to centralized review repositories such as Amazon and epinions - just as the advent of personal blogging tools undermines the viability of weblog clusters such as

Alf Eaton quickly jumped on the idea, building the blam/blaxm duo prototype and later proposing the RVW format. Now, an important development has just taken place: the Blogware blogging tool now supports open reviews. Gary, Alf, Roland, and Marc have written about it, but I think Jonathan Peterson has the clearest story:

Blogware has implemented Reviews and Review metadata in their tool. RVW was already supported as a MovableType plug-in, and through the Blam! publishing tool, which I've been using on Way.Nu for quite a while; but it's inclusion in the "standard load" or Blogware should help speed the growth of the standard.

The RVW specification is a module extension to the RSS 2.0 syndication format. RVW is intended to allow machine-readable reviews to be integrated into an RSS feed, thus allowing reviews to be automatically compiled from distributed sources. In other words, you can write book, restaurant, movie, product, etc. reviews inside your own website, while allowing them to be used by Amazon or other review aggregators.

There should be more than enough RVW metadata out there floating around at this point. The next step is for someone to build a decent aggregator that collating reviews of a particular topic or two. Because of RVS, creating aggregate rating scores and summarizing opinions should be very straightforward. It's really not in the best interests of Amazon, epinions and the like to loose control of their review content, but RVW makes controlling review content impossible in the long term. Anyone got some pull at the Google skunkworks?

Check out Accordion Guy for a detailed walkthrough. I think most people, however well-intentioned, won't have the patience to fill up all the fields by themselves, so I presume the obvious next step would be to enable many of the input fields to be filled automatically by using metadatabase queries. (See the part about Musicbrainz in "Towards structured blogging", and check out how blam gets by with as little as one ISBN number.)

Extrapolating from there, here's what things might look like a few years from now: Blogging tools have become more general in terms of what they produce. Basically they've become a personal publishing interface onto which users can choose to hook a variety of structured item types. A diversity of item types has sprung up; the most popular ones are included by default with weblog tools. Lifting item types from someone else's blog is trivial; creating new ones is only slightly harder.

Third-party harvesters (Technorati next-gen?) scurry around and compete with one another to provide meaningful views of the data. In the case of item types that describe reviews, overall average ratings on any particular product are easy to look up. However, if you choose to provide a description of your personal web of trust to those interfaces (think of blogrolls as a proto-example), you can efficiently get a sense of what your tribe of like-minded individuals thinks of that product. It's the microblogosphere idea again - look up Recommender systems and the microblogosphere for more.


What do you think? []  links to this post    8:46:17 PM  
Zap your videos

Videos from last week's Zap your PRAM conference are beginning to trickle in. Dan James' talk about how Prince Edward Island-based web development shop Silverorange operates was inspiring. These guys actually like their clients, and their clients (including a branch of the NRC, by the way) actually like them.  You'll understand why if you view the video.

What do you think? []  links to this post    11:35:38 AM  

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