At the Syndicate 2005 conference, a few dozen Web companies--including PubSub, Bloglines, Feedster, Meetup, Newsgator, Rojo, Sxip, CommerceNet and Broadband Mechanics--gathered behind a structured blogging initiative, using microformats and other open standards. "We need to make sure that all new formats, such as events, listings, reviews, audio and video blog posts, are compatible with each other. We are encompassing the evolving standards for structured blogging into a compatibility box, and providing extensions for WordPress and Moveable Type," said Marc Canter, CEO of Broadband Mechanics. An "Output This" Web service allows bloggers to route blog posts to any destination.
"A new event aggregation service could combine things from my personal Outlook calendar with a regional-oriented community service, along with social network events. By having a standard for events, we could create new services that can easily consume event information," Canter said. "It's trying to unite existing standards and to corral emerging standards, so the same blogging tools can support all kinds of data types." The blog tool code, created by Broadband Mechanics and PubSub, is submitted for peer review and open sourced, Canter said.
Update: During the announcement event, Niall Kennedy of Technorati brought up that the structured blogging extensions aren't validating with W3C standard tests. Canter said the the problems will be fixed. Nothing in technology, especially involving standards, is easy...
Update 2: Ross Mayfield of Socialtext is supporting the structured blogging initiative. His take:
My personal take is this bottom-up approach won't degrade into Semantic Fuzz. But only a subset of users will fill in forms to contribute metadata (readers are better at it than writers, and they are better at writing in an unstructured way and freeform tagging than the constraints of a form). The real test is if new innovations provide a strong enough incentive for user contributions at the cost of a form.