London Microformats vEvent

It was the end of 2006 when Drew Mclellan and I threw the last microformat event in London and now it’s almost 2008 and we haven’t had another. Cryin’ shame, I say.

So, we’re going to hold another event. We’re ironing out the details, but the bones of it will be a mostly social event in London in the early part of 2008, with a couple of interesting people talking about the latest microformat and semantic web related things and some beer thrown in for good measure.

To help us out though, we’d really appreciated it if you could register your interest in such an event on the wiki. The page you need to visit is here: We’ll also be filling up that page with the details as they happen, so do keep an eye on it.

Note: If you don’t fancy signing up to the wiki, don’t worry about it. Drop a comment here and I’ll add you.

South by South West

I kept saying to myself that I will eventually get around to writing something about this, but being out of the office for 8 days and the best part of offline for 10 means I’ve just had too much getting in my way.

In short: South by South West was great!

First things first; our panel.

Well, it went well. I think. People have been nice and positive about it. Two main concerns generally were a) that it wasn’t exactly what we were billed to do and b) some people didn’t know what microformats were. Well, regarding point b – it wasn’t billed as an introduction to. We only had so much time, and we felt that those likely to want to attend this particular session would already have a foundation, or at least an interest enough to have read about them a little, in microformats enough to know what was going on. I’m sorry if you didn’t get it – I’m more than happy to give you an intro to if you drop me an email (fberriman AT gmail).

A photograph from PTG of the microformats panelAs for the first point. You’re right. We did do more of a history/what’s cool now, as opposed to looking deeply into the future. To be honest, it’s hard to know what’ll happen exactly. I think we did a good job in showing that take up has been brilliant and a lot of big names are getting involved with supporting and implementing microformats, and that there’s real ways you can start using microformats in your day-to-day internet experience.

How did I cope, I hear you ask? I was nervous as anything (particular thanks to Patrick who put up with me being the best part of mute that morning).

About 10 minutes before going on, we learnt that rather than being in a small room which I had somewhat managed to psych myself up for – we’d be in the biggest room (18ABCD). This means I was not at all prepared for the green lighting and the spotlights and the 700-odd people!

Tantek, Glenn and Mike were brilliant though. I’ve heard back from a few people who were genuinely really impressed with the backnetwork and Operator. Jeremy Keith joined us about half way in after a completely unplanned, but perfect, question which allowed him to show of his cool little bluetooth trick.

I did learn that I don’t like prepared speeches though. About 2 lines in, I realised I’d for some reason abandoned what I had planned to say and was making it up on the spot. I did not enjoy that. I did however really like the Q&A section. Having to think on the spot about what people wanted to know about seemed to have the effect of removing a bit of my stage fright. I suppose I prefer conversational tones.

Am I glad I did it overall? Yep. Would I do it again? No. Actually, yeah, I might… if I could do some more smaller things in the mean time and get some practice in, I’d consider it.

Other than that, SxSW was fun. It was a good chance to put some faces to names I knew online and meet a few new ones. Panel wise, I made a bit of an effort to avoid subjects in my field since I didn’t expect to learn that much and headed for more unusual topics. I went to quite a few of the game track (screenburn) sessions, and really enjoyed them. It was especially interesting to learn that they are having a lot of similar issues surrounding maintaining identities/networks in different parts of the web as we are. Also quite fun to know that OpenID is a topic for them.

I have more to write I think, but this is already a long post and late! “Hi” if I met you though, it was a pleasure.

SXSWi Microformats Panel Confirmed

The Growth and Evolution of Microformats panel at SXSWi has been added to the rather handy panel planner on the SXSWi site (shame it’s not marked up as hCalendar though – [edit] the panel picker has now been microformated!). It gives a little bit more of an overview about what it’ll be about:

In its first year, ushered in the rapid adoption of key formats for publishing and sharing tags, licenses, contacts, relationships, events and reviews on the Web. See what new microformats are being developed for resumes, classified listings, music, and media, as well as how tens of millions of established microformats on web sites of individuals, companies, and organizations are driving innovations in desktop applications and advancing personal data portability

You’ll also note that the rest of the panel is announced too. We’ve got Tantek of course – *the* microformat advocate, and moderating the session. Michael Kaply from IBM is the man behind the Operator toolbar for Firefox, which in my mind is the most complete and fully functional addition for Firefox for detection and use of microformats. Glenn Jones is the only one of the bunch I’ve had the pleasure to have met before – he was 1 third of our microformats triple bill at the first BarCampLondon (along with Drew Mclellan and myself). He’s an implementor and created the backnetwork which is stuffed to the gills with microformats. He also presents on the topic, and did so recently with Destroying Walled Gardens at BarCampLondon2.

Then there’s me, of course. Makes me consider my place in the group though.

I mentioned this to a few people and they simply said that I was the human side of things. Possibly more down to earth and using microformats in day to day development. Not too many ideas of grandure and using them practically, and advocating and explaining them in simple terms to those who want to learn about them.

I’m also the most community involved panelist. That might not seem important, but when you realise that microformats wouldn’t exist without the community it’s a lot more. Every spec and decision made about microformats is done by an organic community of people, like myself, who are enthusiasts. It’s this organic growth thats let microformats spring up out of nowhere and gather speed and support so quickly.

I think it’s a good mix though, and I’m looking forward to the panel even if I am a touch nervous.


On Saturday I got to go on a trip to Oxford. I’ve only been there once before, and that was at night for a work function so I didn’t really get to see it. It’s a pretty place. Steve and I went along to a little lunch at “The Big Bang” that John Oxton organised with various geeks. The food was great. The Big Bang is a place that just does sausage and mash – I, of course, went for one of the veggie options (mushroom and garlic, I believe) and it was yum. We stuck around for drinks down “The Friar’s Entry” (yes, I know) and yeah… generally chatted about all things geek and custard.

Photograph of Madame JoJo'sLast night was 20×2. I genuinely remember little about my slot, bar the panic. The problem was I had a keynote presentation, and I thought I’d be able to run it from my laptop – but I had to have the slides on a different one, and my notes from my version on Steve’s mac – so I was trying to operate the laptop, the remote and hold a mic and speak…blah, blah, blah. Yeah. Too much tech., not enough nerve. Plus, the lights were bright onto the stage, so I couldn’t really make eye contact with anyone – which tends to help me, and I couldn’t see the warning lights – so I probably over-ran badly. Argh! Why do I do these things to myself?

Oh well.

Other than that, I had a really good night. I got to meet a few more faces, and everyone else’s slots were really, really cool. A proper variety – artists, musicians, comedians, bloggers… all kinds, and all surprisingly different in their take on the question.

(19 + me) x 2

20×2 is an ongoing project that exists to showcase the creativity that lurks in each of us. Writers, musicians, filmmakers, web geeks and other bon vivants are asked to take two minutes each to answer the question of the day. The results can be as varied as the emotions and reactions they evoke.

20×2 is coming to London next month, and I’ve been invited to do a spot! It’s probably a moment of insanity on my part to agree to do it, but it is only 2 minutes, and I did say I wanted to do more “things”.

Basically, 20 people are each given the same question and fill a 2 minute slot based upon this question, and you can do or say whatever you like!

This session’s question is “Where Am I?”. I don’t have the foggiest idea what to do yet – so I’m taking suggestions. What do you think?

20×2 is going to be in London on the 19th November at Madame JoJo’s in Soho.

vEvent Reminder

p>Just a quicky reminder.

This Saturday (30th) is Drew and I’s Microformat vEvent social in London. You can find all the details and who else is stopping by at the event page.

As I said before – it’s just a low-key social for those in the Microformats loop. So no specific plans or pressure – stop by for a drink is all we ask.

I’ve chatted about it to a couple people, and some have said they’d like a more formal event in the future. So… if the scene looks like it’d be good for it I may well try to organise something (and already have a couple of speaker volunteers). Watch this space, eh?

Also – yes, it’s true. I’m off to SXSW in March, over in Austin, Texas! Can you say excited?

Microformats London social

Drew Mclellan (developer of the awesome hKit) and I have discussed a Microformats Social here in the UK for a while but never got anywhere with it, but now we’ve named a date and want to see levels of interest.

We’ve gone for a Saturday – 30th September. So, it’s a little breather after the upcoming events. If you think you can make it, please register your interest either on the wiki page, or the events page. Drop a comment to say if you’d like to do something in particular on one of those pages or on here. This is mostly designed to be a social, but it’ll be an opportunity to discuss any projects you’ve got on the go, get more involved, or clarify any problems you might be having.

We were thinking a trip to a microbrewery would be appropriate – so if you know of one in London which is easily accessible (i.e. near a tube) and wouldn’t mind a hoard of microformateers visiting, let us know about that too.

If you’re at BarCampLondon or d.Construct then you can always talk to us about it there too (or we may draft you into coming along!).