Learning More about Structured Blogging

Joe Reger, with whom Alex Barnett and I did a podcast last week, and Phil Pearson, both take me to task for omissions in my article on Structured Blogging.

Joe points out that I completely missed one of the major reasons to datablog: personal data mining. For example, let’s say you’re a runner. Joe’s software will allows people who run to input things like running times and graph those times over the course of a month or year. You can quickly and easily monitor your progress (or lack of it). This personal value has little to do with the value to the network that I was talking about….

Joe Reger, with whom Alex Barnett and I did a podcast last week, and Phil Pearson, both take me to task for omissions in my article on Structured Blogging.

Joe points out that I completely missed one of the major reasons to datablog: personal data mining. For example, let’s say you’re a runner. Joe’s software will allows people who run to input things like running times and graph those times over the course of a month or year. You can quickly and easily monitor your progress (or lack of it). This personal value has little to do with the value to the network that I was talking about.

From now on I’m going to call this idea the “Del.icio.us Lesson”. This is the lesson that personal value precedes network value: that selfish use comes before shared use. We’re seeing it more and more everyday in services like Del.icio.us, Flickr, and is an interesting aspect of networked applications. Even though we’re definitely benefitting from the value of networked software, we’re still not doing so unless the software is valuable to us on a personal level first. And I wonder, how will Google Base fare in light of this? What personal value are people getting out of it? Is it enough to make the service successful?

Phil says that I missed a critical point about Structured blogging. His point is that that if you want to write more structured posts, then the SB plugins will help you do that, even if there aren’t aggregators and such out there yet.

To that end, I’m currently trying out the WordPress SB plugin. It installed great, without issue, although I was a bit hesitant that it was comprised of so many files…and not just a single plugin file. My initial thought when using it was similar to Kevin Burton, who left a quick comment saying that he didn’t like the fact that all the metadata fields were before the review. I agree completely. *The* reason why I write a review is the review textbox, not the myriad of possible fields I could enter about that movie. By the time I went through and added the Amazon URL, the IMDB URL, the director, year, etc…I was much less excited about writing my actual review. I agree with Kevin that these fields are secondary, and should be after the review field.

That said, should we have to enter that information at all? I’ve gotten used to not having to enter CD information when I rip a CD into iTunes because of the integration of CDDB data that updates my metadata fields. Couldn’t we have something similar with movies? I shouldn’t have to enter King Kong’s metadata when it is widely known and unchanging. That smells like the perfect place to create a valuable Web 2.0 data store…

Man, I must really be spoiled at this point to complain about having to enter movie metadata…

In addition, Brady Joslin came by and pointed out that to change the code written by the plugin you can tweak it by looking in the wpsb-files/microcontent/descriptions/ folder. Brady wanted to take the bold tags out of his markup…and that’s probably fine as long as you don’t mess up the microformat stuff.

Also, I was surprised to see that Rojo doesn’t handle the SB code correctly. I get two copies of my King Kong review for the price of one…Bloglines was fine, however.

Finally, there are two aspects to Structured Blogging. One is the user interface, and one is the code. I daresay that for non-developers the code is not important, other than some unrealized promise that it will get you better blogrank. The user interface is the big deal for users, obviously, because it is what they see. The code is a big deal for developers and aggregators. For the developers because they worry about stuff like that. For aggregators because that’s what they’re in this for…for millions of people to write better code so they can provide better services. It will be interesting to see how each party handles this idea going forward.

Nevertheless, I’m happy with the Structured Blogging tool in general. It’s quite an impressive plugin, and really the first one I’ve used that makes WordPress feel different than it used to. I have a newfound respect for the level of comprehensiveness that the SB folks are going for here. This isn’t a plugin written in a weekend for a proof of concept. It’s serious. If you haven’t checked it out, go ahead. There’s bound to be a review type or two that strikes your fancy.

Published: December 21st, 2005

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