Do we need Riffs when everyone seems very happy writing reviews directly on their blogs?
He then continues:
The service I’ll pay attention to is the one that lets me find the riffs and reviews (and recipes and whatever else) that people put on their own blogs. That can be a search engine or an aggregator or both that gets people to swarm around tags so they know their stuff will be found. It works inside Flickr and Del.icio.us. It can work outside, in the distributed web.
In a related post, he talks about Google Base:
I wish I were hearing more noise from the microformats guys to act as competitors — or at least as pressure on Google for openness and standards.
Imagine if you could go to a page that lets you put in your resume or house ad or job ad and it spits out tagged XML you could put on the web anywhere to be found by anyone.
Or imagine putting tags on restaurant reviews you post on your blog so anyone could aggregate or search for, say, all the cuisine=mexican restaurants in location=chicago. Well, you don’t really have to imagine that. If you aggreed on the tags, you could start doing that today via Del.icio.us and Technorati.
And imagine if you could go to Google or other services — e.g., Indeed and SimplyHired for jobs or Baristanet for three Jersey towns — and see the tags they use so you can swarm around those tags and find and be found. That’s the openness we need. If Google spearheads that with a truly open API that can be adapted by the community, then great. That is our distributed marketplace. But if not, then Google is only trying to recreate the centralized marketplaces of old — otherwise known as newspapers. That worked for newspapers when they had monopolies. They don’t anymore. Does Google think it has a monopoly?
There are two big things going on here. Firstly, the association of people (and therefore opinions) with content. This is the fundamental contribution of the combination of Blogging (or to be more specific, blogging software) and the right distribution mechanism (RSS). I say that this is the right distribution mechanism because it encourages applications (e.g. search, of course) that work thanks to the right encoding of the data: The association of people with content is something that Web 1.0 missed.
The fundamental motivation behind the original web content model was the logical structure of documents and the relationships between the (content within) documents. The functional aspect of the documents (which parts were content, which were navigation, which were adverts) was not captured, nor were notions of creation (including the content creator, the time, the subject matter, etc.)
Secondly, and this is what we are all about in this post, there is the notion of associating meaning with content. Meaning refers to the meaning of the object content (i.e. the meaning of the words authored) and the meaning of the navigational and other meta-document elements (e.g. the use of the rel tag).
Thirdly, there is associating intent with content - something which structured blogging and Riff are designed to do - they capture the notion of document genre aligned with certain authorial intentions - generally reviewing things.
Systems like Riff make tie all these things together explicitly. The data is encoded in the application, but that encoding pretty much is the application (at least on the user facing side). What Jeff is arguing for is a distribution of these representations that allow for applications like Riff to be layerd on top. Riff is an important step at getting at the functionality. Making the representation more open and fluid seems like the right thing to do, but how long do we have to wait to see powerful applications built on top. I mean, can you stand another maps mashup that puts a pin here and a pin there?
Finally, I'm going to requote Jeff:
If you aggreed on the tags, you could start doing that today via Del.icio.us and Technorati.
Agreeing on tags - organization around tags in the way Jeff suggests, is more akin to ontological and taxonomical semantic information (which I like) and not what the folksonomy taggers are about.