Sébastien Paquet has a fascinating update on his blog of some recent developments in the field of “structured blogging” — extending the blog paradigm beyond simple text to cover the creation, publication, and syndication of more complex types of data, like product reviews (Seb’s canonical example).
This certainly seems like a natural direction for blogs to grow. Currently there’s huge volumes of knowledge being created on the Web every day, but it’s either locked up inside “walled garden” systems (Amazon’s reader reviews, for example) or made difficult to find by a lack of useful metadata (the key facts that bob within the sea of text that make up each active blog). We finesse the problem by using old-school methods like screen scraping to get some use out of the first group, and clever algorithms like Google PageRank to get around the second, but if we could provide people with easy-to-use tools for generating structured data from the get-go, things could get dramatically better. You wouldn’t need Amazon to have a site featuring reader reviews; such sites could self-organize using the same simple syndication and discovery mechanisms that have made technologies like RSS so powerful.
Seb mentions BlogWare as the first tool to support such functionality — it has just added support for the RVW module for RSS 2.0, allowing structured syndication of product reviews. I hadn’t heard of BlogWare before this, so it’s certainly interesting to see a newcomer pushing out in such interesting new directions. The big question, of course, is whether any other tools will follow suit, and whether the other end of the transaction — the aggregators — will pick up their share; but for that, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.Posted by Jason Lefkowitz at November 04, 2003
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