Exploring Live Clipboard

Today's 8-minute screencast (Flashis a meditation on Live Clipboard, the hCalendar microformat, Upcoming and Eventful.

I've been experimenting with microformats since before they were called that, and I'm completely jazzed about Live Clipboard. In this screencast I'll walk you through examples of Live Clipboard in use, show how the hCalendar payload is wrapped, grab hCalendar data from Upcoming and Eventful, convert it to iCalendar format for insertion into a calendar program, inject it natively into Live Clipboard, and look at Upcoming and Eventful APIs side-by-side.

All this leads up to a question: How can I copy an event from one of these services and paste it into another? My conclusion is that adopting Live Clipboard and microformats will be necessary but not sufficient. We'll also need a way to agree that, for example, this venue is the same as that one. At the end, I float an idea about how we might work toward such agreements.

The lightly-tweaked Live Clipboard demo that you'll see in the screencast is available here, and the bookmarklet that extracts events from Upcoming and Eventful is here. Both are Firefox-only for now.


At the end of the screencast, I suggest that collaborative aliasing could help us connect various representations of the same thing -- for example, the same event venue. David Janes points out that we would do better to express an event's location by pointing from one microformat (hCalendar) to another (hCard). For location data I think that's true, and as David says, Eventful already works that way. But there's more going on here.

At Eventful (but not at Upcoming) a venue can have tags, associated URLs, and comments (What people are saying about this venue). Upcoming's venues don't have unique features of their own, but they could. We will arrive at the most complete picture of a venue by combining what Eventful, Upcoming, and perhaps other services know about it.

A different example may help clarify what I mean by collaborative aliasing. Here are five URLs that refer to Jack London's Call of the Wild:

  1. A DVD of the 1975 movie, in Amazon's catalog.
  2. A hardcover edition of the book in the Barnes and Noble catalog.
  3. An OCLC xISBN lookup that finds a long list of Call of the Wild ISBNs -- none of which, however, corresponds to items 1 and 2.
  4. The LibriVox audiobook version that I mentioned last month.
  5. The Wikipedia page about the book.

What naming scheme could we use to connect these in a grassroots and collaborative way? The screencast mulls the notion of a tagging convention, like so:

In this example, the tag Book_JackLondon_CallOfTheWild is the connective tissue.

Like David Janes, Danny Ayers prefers URIs. Of the five listed above, the Wikipedia URL would clearly be Danny's first choice. "If there are fairly solid reference services like Wikipedia or IMDB," he writes, "then use their URIs."

I'll go along with that, so long as the URIs are easy for people to invent, to read, and to write. And so long as they can function as tags in social classification systems -- which for now, it seems, they cannot.

Former URL: http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2006/04/03.html#a1418