hCard and microformats

July 9, 2007

I’ve been poking around microformats for the last while. Although there has been a lot of adoption of microformats, they haven’t really gone mainstream. Yet. Given the rate of adoption though, and the fact that a mainstream’ish site like LinkedIn boasts over 9 million hResume based profiles, my feeling is that its only a matter of time.

So what are they? Basically its a way of representing information in such a way that a parser, be it a browser or a bot, can read the information and recognize it as a business card or a resume. It could be a way for recruitment sites to standardize information so that you don’t have to retype your resume every time you hit a new job site. So yes, its a standard if you want to look at it that way, but what makes it different from something like the vcard standard is that it is implemented in html which means that browsers that don’t support the standard can still read the information. Since it is implemented in html, it also means that designers can use css to style the elements in whichever way they please without effecting the standard.

Pretty simple and elegant solution all around actually. Each element is encased in a div tag with specific class, the parser looks for elements that have a specific class name and parses their contents. Nice!

Here is my hCard as an example.

Dror Eyal

Open World Systems

855 E. Collins Blvd.

Richardson,Texas,75081USA

and the code …

My only concern with the format is that the person’s email address is left open to spam if published this way – hence my fiendishly clever use of the demo@ address.

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Those of you that have been following this blog, and its predecessor ikissnoise for a while, will know that I have been a big fan of LinkedIn as a social network for business people. They do seem to be lagging behind the rest of the social networking crowd in terms of features. A recent announcement that they will be releasing an API within the next 9 months has been met with some criticism that it is too little too late.

So what other strategies are open to someone who has seemingly missed the API bus? Jeremiah Owyang recently posted some interesting thoughts on his blog.

One key feature I see that LinkedIn from benefiting is to become the online source of the resume, not just the networks that are connected to the jobs. Help users to answer; “what skills have I learned, who else has them, where can I find others with these skills”. There’s an opportunity to expand the tool as the online resume.

If LinkedIn is to become the premiere social networking tool for businesses (as stated in this article) then they need to consider joining all the communities that existing in the context of business. If I were working at LinkedIn, I would be pushing an API to Facebook quickly and also universal login that web managers could integrate into their site. This identity systems could feed into recruiting systems, monster.com and even the ‘career’ pages on corporate websites –let me fill out my core information (or different versions of it) once and submit to many. It’s an API really, and would actually be a competitor to some identity management systems, almost like OpenID.

I believe that if LinkedIn doesn’t open an API sooner than 9 months, they may be falling back further than they think. Although the hResume move was interesting strategically as hResume has not been widely adopted yet.