4 thoughts on “Iconified Metadata

  1. I guess you started off with the best example: the feed icon. It is very useful to have an icon that indicates that the site has a feed that you can subscribe to. Having a standard icon has a certain recognition value. You can argue whether you need the icon on the web page itself. I got certainly very used to seeing the feed icon in the right corner of the URL box in my Firefox browser.

    You already microformats. I can see the same happening with microformats in a little while. I think it is useful to have these icons around. Some kind of standard is almost a must. I can certainly do without the rainbow. Matt Brett did an awesome job providing a feed icon package that lets you adjust it to your particular layout. I don’t see why this should not work with other icons.

  2. A microsummary microsummary is what we need. Go recursive, go nuts.

    To be more serious, in my mind, the browser should know what the page consists of and present it to the user integrated into the GUI (cf. the feed icon). Icons on the web page work, but they should be the worst-case fall-back, when the browser doesn’t know what’s on the page.

    There should ideally exist a pluggable architecture for micro formats (micro format here meaning a format embedded into the basic delivery system of the web, (X)HTML) of all kinds, be they XHTML-based, XML-based or based on something entirely different. The plug-ins then simply include a description of the micro format (eg. a BNF grammar) that allows the browser to detect them in the code and hand them off to the plug-in.

    Such a pluggable architecture would ideally become a part of the creation of new micro summaries, and browser support being one of the stopgaps to completion of the overall micro summary development.

    In short, meta-data in any form should primarily make things easier for the user or the service. Including meta-data and pointing to it with an icon is a very poor attempt at that, even though an icon is better than nothing. Browser integration should be the goal with any and all meta-data that pertains to users. Otherwise it cuts out a large percentage of the user base.

  3. Last paragraph should be “user of the service” not “user or the service”. Gnnnh.

  4. I see the icon more as a banner that proclaims “We’re trying to promote RSS” or some other new technology or service. Nobody has a special icon for email links because it’s so ubiquitous. Eventually all these icons will be dropped and replaced with new ones representing new technologies and services.

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