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December 19, 2005

data at the edges

"Everything you create online is being ripped apart and recombined with other stuff by thousands of curious geeks. Or at least it should be"

Jeffrey Veen, WE05

At this time of the year, people's eyes turn to the past, and they recap the last 12 months, or the future, as they predict the next 12. Many others have weighed in with their predictions (looks like web sites are going to look more like cartoons), but here is mine.

"People will become less and less important visitors to your site, while software will become smarter and more interested in your data."

"What what what?" as Kyle's mum would say. If you have a blog, how do most people read it? Not in a browser - so they won't be seeing your lovingly crafted designs. Most likely your loyal readers rarely if ever visit your site with a browser. But it's not only RSS software that is important for your sites. Your most important visitors aren't people at all - they are google, technorati, and other software. Technorati tags make your site much more visible to sites like technorati, and so to users who are looking for specific information. And a tag is structured data you can easily add to your site to take advantage of that.

Which leads me to part two of my prediction.

"data will become increasingly distributed, and reside on the edges of the network (a book review you do will reside on your site, not, for instance at Amazon)"

While tagging sites for technorati is quite common today, let's look forward to a year from now. Already microformats offer a mechanism to structure things like contact information (hCard), event information (hCalendar) and relationships between yourself and other people (XFN). What does the next 12 months hold? If you review something, a restaurant, book, site, game, album, why not use hReview - if we get a few hReviews out there, how quickly will someone throw together a review aggregator, like rubhub is for XFN? Next thing, Yahoo offers to buy them for $X million.

We all put a lot of effort into making our sites pretty - that is our effort is going to making them nicer for people to consume. It's time to start making sites nicer for software to consume. That's what this next 12 months will be about. Well, at least that's my prediction. Keep your eye on microformats and webpatterns

December 19, 2005 | Permalink


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Tracked on Dec 31, 2005 8:40:27 PM


In all of this change, one thing seems to be getting lost - how does the author know how many times their article has been read? It's not just ego, unless people are generous with their time and write comments; you have no real idea what people found interesting.

For example, I know several people read my site via systems like bloglines... but do I see that in my traffic stats? No... do I have any idea which articles were interesting and hence which topics best suit the audience? No... Do I, in fact, have any idea if anybody is reading my site?

It's possible that a site could have the majority of readership through syndication. The poor author must be sitting there wondering why nobody likes their site. Hits to the feed don't count, that's automated and doesn't record if the article was read or not.

It's a thought, anyway :)

Posted by: Ben Buchanan | Jan 4, 2006 3:04:11 PM

Took me time to read all the comments, but I enjoyed the article.

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