Saturday, March 01, 2008

A few notes on how the content of this blog has changed

Over the past few months there have been a number of changes in where I post certain things that used to appear on this blog.

I have still been attending Tarentum Borough Council meetings, but posts on this blog about what happened in those meetings have been infrequent. I have been posting news stories about Tarentum at If I want to add my opinion about that news I may post it as a comment to the news story or on this blog. Topix gathers news from lots of different sources, and occasionally my reports there have filled a void.

I also have been posting announcements of upcoming events less frequently on this blog, but I have still been using the web to get the word out. I've learned something about the hCalendar microformat that I had been using on this blog for those announcements. This microformat provides a way to add some extra code to a description of an event so that the information can be more readily processed by other programs that gather information about events. It is used in a lot of different places. For example, the event pages on Facebook are in the hCalendar microformat. Listings of events on are also in the hCalendar microformat.

There are also a lot of search engines and services that use this microformat to identify events. Last year when I was looking for information on an upcoming community event, I was gratified to discover that the "news swicki" had already found and processed the information I had posted on the internet using the microformat.

Among the nice features of is the ability to send the event listing to other sites such as Upcoming that publicize and track events. At the same time, eventful gathers information from other sources than its own users' submissions.

Another nice feature of eventful is the ability to maintain a calendar, and to create a widget for the calendar that can be posted on other websites. On the sidebar of this blog under the title "Events in and around Tarentum" I have a widget with the next few events on the eventful calendar for Tarentum. I have used a similar widget to post events for the Central Presbyterian Church on the church website.

The hCalendar microformat is so useful that I am quite surprised that many of the web services that offer to maintain website calendars don't use it. It takes so little extra code to make one's calendar readable by a robot or spider. Often the reason people post calendar information on their websites is that they would like to invite other people to attend. But without using code such as the hCalendar microformat they limit their audience to the people who find their website.

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