Following on from my earlier data blogging post, and along the
lines of Jon Udell's
here's the first in a series of posts exploring some ideas about how data blogging
might be interesting in today's Web 2.0 world.
Easy one first: Reviews.
When I write a review on my blog of a book I've read or a movie I've seen,
it should be trivial to syndicate this as a review to multiple relevant
websites. My book reviews might go to Amazon (who else does good user
book review aggregation out there?), movies reviews to IMDB, Yahoo Movies,
I'm already writing prose, so I should just be able to mark it up as a
microformats hReview, add some tags to control syndication,
and have that content available via one or more RSS or Atom feeds.
I should then just be able to go to my Amazon account, give it the url
for the feed I want it to monitor for reviews, and - voila! - instant
user-driven content syndication.
This is a win-win isn't it? Amazon gets to use my review on its website,
but I get to retain a lot more control in the process:
I can author content using my choice of tools instead of filling out a
textarea on the Amazon website
I can easily syndicate content to multiple sites, and/or syndicate
content selectively as well
I can make updates and corrections according to my policies, rather than
Amazon's (Amazon would of course still be able to decide what to do with
I should be able to revoke access to my content to specific websites
if they do stupid stuff
I and my readers get the benefit of retaining and aggregating my content
on my blog, and all your standard blogging magic (comments, trackbacks,
tagclouds, etc.) still apply
It would probably also be nice if Amazon included a link back to the
review on my blog which would drive additional traffic my way, and allow
interested Amazon users to follow any further conversations (comments and
trackbacks etc.) that have happened there.
So are there any sites out there already doing this?
I've been spending some time thinking about
a couple of
by Jon Udell, in which he discusses a hypothetical "lifebits" service
which would host his currently scattered "digital assets" and syndicate
them out to various services.
Jon's partly interested in the storage and persistence guarantees such a
service could offer, but I find myself most intrigued by the way in which
he inverts the current web model, applying the publish-and-subscribe
pull-model of the blogging world to traditional upload/push environments
like Flickr or MySpace, email, and even health records.
The basic idea is that instead of creating your data in some online app,
or uploading your data to some Web 2.0 service, you instead create it in
your own space - blog it, if you like - and then syndicate it to the
service you want to share it with. You retain control and authority over
your content, you get to syndicate it to multiple services instead of
having it tied to just one, and you still get the nice aggregation and
folksonomy effects from the social networks you're part of.
I think it's a fascinating idea.
One way to think of this is as a kind of "data blogging", where we blog
not ideas for consumption by human readers, but structured data of
various kinds for consumption by upstream applications and services.
Data blogs act as drivers of applications and transactions, rather than
The syndication piece is presumably pretty well covered via RSS and Atom.
We really just need to define some standard data formats between the
producers - that's us, remember! - and the consumers - which are the
applications and services - and we've got most of the necessary components
ready to go.
Some of the specialised XML vocabularies out there are presumably useful
on the data formats side. But perhaps the most interesting possibility is
the new swag of microformats currently being
put to use in adding structured data to web pages. If we can blog
people and organisations,
social networks, we've got halfway
decent coverage of a lot of the Web 2.0 landscape.
Anyone else interested in inverting the web?