12 Sep 2005 tnt   » (Master)

Microformats Proposal for Reputation and Trust Metrics

Topics: Microformats  Trust Metrics  rev-tag  rel-peer  rel-meme  XFN  rel-tag  P2P  

I've known about the Microformats movement for a while. (Probably before it first started gaining traction.) But I was only really sitting on the sidelines watching things develop. In fact, it was only really recently that I really understood Microformats. (The confusion wasn't really what a Microformat was but more what a Microformat wasn't. I thought they included much much more than they actually do. Like XML namspace based paradigms like the XML modules commonly used with RSS, Atom, and RDF. They don't.)

One of the key points of Microformats is who they are made to be accessible by. This is NOT a technology that requires you to have a B.Sc. in Mathematics to use. This is NOT a technology that requires you to be a Computer Scientist to use. This is NOT even a technology that requires you to be a software engineer to use. Microformats are meant to be accessible to people with only basic HTML knowledge. If you know more than this -- if you have more than basic HTML knowledge -- then great. Good for you. It will be super easy for you to make use of them. But... let me stress again that you only need basic HTML knowledge to use them. If markup like the following makes sense to you, then you should be comfortable using Microformats in your in your day to day web development work:

This is <b>bold</b> and this is a <a href="http://changelog.ca/">link</a>.

(This accessibility is in part enforced by requiring that all Microformats to be in pure-HTML... well pure-XHTML... but you get the idea.)

The other key point to Microformats is that machines can figure out what you are trying to say too. Machines can figure out what you mean. And that is powerful!

This article proposes 3 new Microformats that together and with other Microformats and possibly other non-Microformat technologies let people and machines deduce trust metrics and answer questions with degrees of certainty. Yeah, I know, it sounds complex. But the whole concept is actually pretty simple and probably intuitive. Basically, it let's me and you (and machines) get answers to questions like:

  • What music do my friends "like" to listen to?
  • What people are "knowledgeable" about car engines?
  • What people, that one of my friends knows personally, is "knowledgeable" about car engines?
  • What are some "good" rap songs that I have never heard before?
  • Who "should" I be listening to about RSS?
  • What are some "good" places to eat in Surrey?
  • Was <u>The Island</u> a "good" movie?
  • What's "good" on TV?
  • Know of any new "good" jokes?
  • Where's a "good" place to get my car serviced in Kitsilano?
  • If I want to drive from Surrey to Langley what's the "best" way to take to avoid traffic, speed traps and all the other crap?
  • Is it "safe" to order this t-shirt online, from this guy in Texas?
  • What music is "popular" among people who go to Guildford Park Secondary School?
  • How many people would "like" to hear the song <u>Back Then</u> by Mike Jones played today?
  • How much "support", in the Surrey-North riding, does this proposed bill have for becoming law?
  • Who would "like" this law to be repealed?
  • How many of my friends would "like" this law to be repealed too?
  • What "good" apartments are for rent in Kitsilano?
  • Who "should" I allow to post comments to my artilces without poisoning their links with rel-nofollow?

And it let's you answer these questions by "asking" your friends, co-workers, acquaintances, colleagues, fellow-members, and peers. Which is how most do it in "real life". (We tend to ask people who we know. Or ask people who we think know something about the topic our question is on. Or directly or indirectly get information from a friend-of-a-friend. Etc.) Technically though, we are not really verbally "asking", but using Microformats (and possibly other technologies) to figure out these answers. Also, it let's you "judge" how much value you put on each person's opinion or advice.

Of course, this list is not even close to being complete. I'm only scrathing the surface. There are an infinite number of questions that can be answered. And others will likely use this technology in some very creative and important ways to have questions that are meaningful to them or others to be answered. But, hopefully this list will give you an idea of what trust metrics are about.

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