‘ve been reading Microformats: Empowering Your Markup for Web 2.0 and I’m about halfway through the book. I’m fairly excited about the idea of the semantic web and putting meaning behind ordinary web pages (and the html markup behind them). I think microformats used by people to start to include that meaning. Indeed, many existing websites, such as Technorati and Flickr, already use them. My major concern is that microformats still seem to be a geek phenomenon for the most part – except for websites that embed them automatically (and usually transparently) as part of their functionality. There are a few outside sites that have been built to make it easier to add microformats to your content, usually by providing the markup to add to your page, but they still require that you have access to the behind-the-scenes markup (for the most part).
So how to we make microformats more accessible? I think the obvious answer is that we need to web 2.0 them and create gadgets/widgets which allow people to add them without even knowing if they should use rel or rev. Hopefully more web 2.0 websites include microformats behind the scenes in their own functionality as well.
What good are having microformats on the page if visitors don’t know what they’re for? Operator, the Firefox extension, has addressed this somewhat by creating a toolbar that allows you to interact with certain microformats on the page with certain applications and websites. I think before microformats become mainstream, we need to see this completely integrated into all the browsers (Firefox promises this in a future version) and also have some type of built-in functionality that allows you to click on the microformated content and have the context dictate the services offered.
These aren’t necessarily new ideas, but I wanted to share my opinions which popped up while reading the book (and also the Microformats website).