Andrew Turner pinged me about a project I started up as an offshoot to my work with Mozes called Picoformats. He wrote that a picoformat
is a standard-means for defining markup in small, probably mobile, devices.
That’s not exactly the original idea, but it actually makes a lot of sense and, the more that Tara and I use our Blackberries, the more we see a need for standard micro-interfaces. Sure it’s great that you can download my hcard into your address book from your regular web browser, but the same seems not to hold true on mobile devices.
Andrew’s post did highlight both the need for me to get the word out about this project and also explain it a little more clearly since Microformats could actually address the formating of data for mobile devices (especially when we start pairing up microformatted content with relevant media-specific CSS).
Dodgeball already has a pretty good SMS/email dialect. In fact, I use it all the time. What I want is service interoperability, so that when I send a message to (okay, I’ll reveal my bias) Mozes, I can use the same syntax to compose the command or message. For example, if I send a message formed like this: “! heading to the movies at 10pm”, it shouldn’t matter if I’m on Dodgeball, Facebook Mobile, MySpace Mobile, or FactoryCity Mobile — each service that supports Picoformats should send out the blast message to my friends, just as I’d expect it to. But already there’s divergence — with Mozes using “@” for blast messages and Dodgeball using “!”. This is the kind of thing that will make it extremely hard for people to move between services or, worse yet, use a multitude of services.
You can probably begin to see how this is similar to life before Adium or Trillian. Personally, I like not having to run 5 different instant messenger apps. I like having them all in one and being able to IM my friends regardless of the service they’re on from one interface. I’d like to be able to do the same with the mobile services I use. And that’s why this Picoformats idea is important — it’s syntactic interoperability.