At Mix06, I had pressed Bill Gates a bit about the importance of microformats. In his reply, Gates mentioned that they could be useful for directions–and Tantek Celik, who was in the audience, picked up on this idea and made a call-to action requesting a microformat for directions.
Don Marti picked up on the significance of this idea: “When people put geographical directions up using microformats, someone will crawl them and string the route decisions together to get a directions search engine with common sense (because it borrowed the common sense of millions of users) that doesn’t tell people to make an illegal left into oncoming traffic, the way a certain map site used to tell me to leave my old house every day. (70mph combined speed motor vehicle slalom! Yaaaaahooooo!)”
This is exactly the train of thought that I’m sure Bill G was having, because in addition to our backstage discussion on the importance of microformats (which led to the exchange Tantek reported on stage), we also talked about how Bill thought that Navteq’s lock on directions data would come under attack as Web 2.0-style collaborative data gathering gained steam.
Tantek’s lazyweb call for a directions microformat as a way to start this bottom-up process seems really imporant to me. It would be really cool to see some progress on this idea by our Where 2.0 conference in June.