Yahoo has announced that they will begin to support semantic web standards. These standards (hCard, hCalendar, hReview, hAtom, and XFN) make it easier for users to share their personal information, contacts, blog posts, product reviews and other information easily among websites. This move is part of Yahoo’s broader drive to open up their services. We are about to witness the web become organized in an extremely short period of time.
While I didn’t speak with Mark Zuckerberg about open standards in my interview with him, Marshall Kirkpatrick did and states that “the Facebook CEO expressed disinterest in participating in the Semantic Web.” That’s a bad move by Zuckerberg and could potentially spell disaster for the company.
Conversely, just because the large search engines begin supporting semantic web standards, it doesn’t mean users will immediately begin to benefit from them. Look for web development tools and platforms (Adobe Dreamweaver, WordPress, Movable Type, etc) to integrate these standards into their existing products, making it easier for users to publish their information even though they are not aware of the formatting standards. Eventually this will make everything much more efficient.
All social networks are going to be forced to embrace the semantic web standards. While it won’t be immediate, eventually users will have access to a single tool that enables them to list and manage all of their contacts. While Facebook is at the forefront of developing such a tool, not supporting semantic web standards will ultimately prove disastrous.