Simple friendly formats

SXSW has wrapped up for me, although many others will still be out partying long after I post this. I’ve had the chance to meet some interesting people. Some of them I have names and URLs for, some just faces and conversations.

The Future of Blogging panel was good. Tantek Çelik asked a question about the complexity of Friend of a Friend (FOAF), and whether a more human-readable/writable format was needed. The question was not well received by the panel, which took the view that tools (like Movable Type) will be able to hide the sometimes messy details from the user.

But remember that if nothing else, the weblog movement has proved that it is the simple formats that will be successful. RSS 1.0 (RDF-based) was interesting, but it’s dead, and it’s dead because it was too complicated. Similar situation with XML-RPC vs. SOAP. To get to the point of having great tools that hide the protocols, you need to go through a period of hand-coding. The easier a spec is to understand and implement, the more people will adopt it, the more momentum it will have, and the more tools that can build on it.

I took a bunch of notes in some of the more interesting sessions. Originally I had planned on posting them to the SXSWblog Notes Exchange, but alone their value is questionable; they are so interspersed with my own thoughts which need more exploration. Over the next few days I’ll unravel them and post my view on the topics that have threaded through the conference.

Justin Hall on note taking:

Now that I’m practicing more professional journalism, I see less value in a straight recitations of events. I want a summary, with key glowing thoughts brought out, hyperlinked and put in context. Notes are good for article building, but they don’t make much of an article in and of themselves.

Manton Reece @manton