Most people would agree that it would be great if information people plug into their weblogs was easily searched, retrieved and categorized for the kind of information it is. For example, getting a search bot to go out and find all the conferences on a certain topic scheduled for your region for the coming fiscal year might help you plan professional development. It's one thing to find only information that's been posted in events databases. But think of the possibilities of finding every mention in every blog as well.
What people can't agree on is a standard method.
I missed this debate back in October, but it's worth going back to look at. Stowe Boyd of Corante describes the debate between advocates of microformats and structured blogging.
I won't drag you into a technical debate. Suffice to say that microformats is one method of cataloguing information (such as a movie review, or an event notification). It calls for the use of web page style sheets to insert information about what category of information is being published (ie. event date, event location, event time). Another method, structured blogging, would employ plug-ins to help bloggers categorize their information.
Boyd leans toward the microformat method (style sheet approach) over the structured blogging method, mostly because it requires less up-front agreement among players in different companies.
It's not for the technically challenged, but the debate extends across several months and many authors:
- Structured Blogging Wiki
- Ken Thompson - Structured Blogging Standard Launched
- Phillip Pearson - Structured Blogging
- Pete Cashmore - Riffs, Noodly and Microformats
- Joshua Porter - Structured Blogging: Who Is Benefitting and How?
- Gregory Narain - The Structured Blogging/Microformats Debate - Different Sides of the Same Coin
The discussion extends way beyond this small group, but these were the ones I could easily pull from a BlogPulse search of Boyd's blog. As I get more comfortable with tools like BlogPulse, it's changing the way I pursue a topic. Instead of being stuck with one or two perspectives, I can open my field of vision to see a broader discussion taking place across continents, interest groups and time frames.
- Shel Holtz has an excellent overview of structured blogging
- Bob Wyman of PubSub (which has sponsored two plug-ins to help bloggers) gives some examples of structured blogging in use
- Google Blog Search on Structured Blogging and Microformats (a lot of overlapping results)
- Technorati on Structured Blogging and Microformats
- Stowe Boyd continues to naysay
- Arnaud Leene argues that even if structured blogging takes specialized skills and effort, a devoted core of people will make it work