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June 14, 2005

Structured blogging - and introduction and the implications

By Charlene Li

This is a much delayed post from a conversation I had with Salim Ismail, CEO and co-founder of PubSub at the Syndicate conference last month.

Salim introduced me to the idea of structured blogging, which is an open standard to put structure around currently free-form blog posts. There's a site dedicated to this idea at structuredblogging.org, and it puts the opportunity quite well:

"We believe that if more information could be structured, a whole new set of tools and concepts could be created."

There's already a plug-in for WordPress that allows those users to create structured blog posts. Here are a few examples that Salim shared with me. My favorite example: A DVD review for Lord Of The Rings, with a link over to an Amazon affiliate account to buy the movie.

Some implications:

- Local search: Right now, if you want to write a business review, you have to do it in a proprietary format on a service like Yahoo! Local or Citysearch. But what if I could put a review up of my favorite crepe restaurant on my blog and have it appear on multiple sites? It throws proprietary content to the wind, but they all could benefit from better content being made available -- Google Local  already seeks and compiles restaurant reviews from multiple sources.

- Classifieds: This is already "structured", especially in the case of companies that create a structured feed of their job openings to send to job boards like Monster.com. But imagine if I'm selling a car (which I am) and the ability to have it picked up by a specialized search engine for used cars (think of Indeed.com or SimplyHired for the auto market). Repeat for apartments, event tickets, and real estate -- look out, local MLS!

Overall, I think structured blogging is a great idea -- I see it as a way to extend the traditional "lists" on people's social networking profiles to include personal reviews. It also has some interesting implications for the "ownership" of the data -- especially if individuals start putting their reviews and items for sale in a centralized location rather than on individual services.

John Battelle also has an interesting post about what PubSub is doing in their approach to creating more structure around feeds.

What do you think -- would you use structured blogging on your own blogs or as part of an online profile?

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Comments

Bud Gibson

Your point about structured blogging potentially enabling a better interface between content providers and aggregators is well taken. But, structured blogging has a real drawback. It requires going beyond html with little real standards support. For that reason, I don't think many people beyond pubsub are using it.

Another approach called xhtml microformats is starting to get more widespread adoption because it is simpler, only requiring html. Think you have not heard of microformats? Technorati's reltag microformat, the one that allows you to put technorati tags in your posts, has had tremendous uptake and really put technorati's tag pages on the search engine map.

Do a google search for "podcasting" or "podcast", you'll see the technorati tag page in the top 10. I provide a little case study for how the reltag microformat made that happen here:

http://thecommunityengine.com/home/archives/2005/06/folksonomy_make.html

Another microformat, xFolk, is currently gaining adoption with folksonomy providers like http://de.lirio.us and http://blogmarks.net.

A group of about 20 independent developers is in the process of putting together a microformats repository. The technorati reltag experience has put forth the economic case which is apparent even to non-business people in the uptake the format has received.

Sean O'Rourke

The name "structured blogging" irks me to no end. It ignores all the rich data that exists outside of blogs. The name "microformat" is more suitable to the long-term.

Highly technical analysis this morning, I know. :-)

Frank Ruscica

The key to fulfilling the promise of structured blogging is establishing a deeply liquid, *transparent* ad market that maximizes rewards for bloggers who annotate their blogs with metadata (thereby enabling more precise ad placement and inventory valuation).

This ad market will be delivered by the highest-growth industry that will benefit from such an ad market: customized education and career services.

Amazon.com-/Microsoft-approved details coming online at
Landof.OpportuniTV.com.

Mr. Pillman

thx for the information necessary to me.. and no comments (c)

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