Mashups, microformats and the mobile web

Panel members

Chair: Sean McGrath
CTO, Propylon

Panellist: Bill de hÓra
Engineer, NewBay

Panellist: Conor O'Neill
Founder, Argolon Solutions (LouderVoice)

Panellist: Ben Ward
Developer, Yahoo!


Sean McGrath graduated in Computer Science from Trinity College Dublin in 1987. He has worked for 20 years in the IT industry, and is a vocal proponent of the power of mashups, microformats, syndication formats and dynamically-typed programming environments. He is CTO with legislative software specialists Propylon. Sean served as an invited expert to the W3C Special Interest Group that created XML in 1997. He is an early innovator in the mobile web: he was using RSS and WAP in 1999; he was the architect of Mission Control, an early mobile portal; and he was also involved in the foundation of Irish mobile social networking company NewBay. Sean is the author of three books on markup languages (two on XML and one on SGML). He has been running an Irish technology blog since 2002. Sean has also been a columnist for ITWorld for the past six years (1, 2).

Bill de hÓra works as an engineer and product developer with NewBay in the area of Mobile Web 2.0. He is co-editor of the Atom Publishing Protocol, and is editor of the HTTPLR reliable messaging specification. Bill has a strong interest in using Internet standards, open source and open formats like Atom, Atom Protocol, REST, XML, ODF, Microformats, RDF, XMPP, HTTP, and platforms and languages like LAMP, Java, Python and Ruby to economically solve both large- and small-scale integration and content management problems. In the past, he has worked on messaging systems, document management, legislative systems, web servers, CMSes, n-way integrations, technology research, client apps, event based systems, and company evaluation for both the government and private sectors. Bill also served on the W3C RDF Working Group, and he has a long standing interest in applied artificial intelligence, mainly around the topics of machine learning, software agents and the semantic web.

Conor O'Neill has been providing IT consultancy and outsourcing services since the early 1990s. As founder of Argolon Solutions, he advises in the areas of web for SMEs, blogging, social networking for business, and mobile technology adoption. In 2006, Conor and his team built a blog review service called LouderVoice. LouderVoice provides tools to publish and aggregate reviews (using the hReview microformat) to and from blogs, microblogs, social networks, video sharing sites and mobile phones. Conor was one of the main driving forces behind the recent Paddy's Valley initiative, and he also established the local series of Cork OpenCoffee meetups. In 2007, he served as editor for the Irish technology section of the blognation site. Conor is a prolific blogger, authoring and contributing to a host of blogs.

Ben Ward is a web developer at Yahoo! in London and an administrator in the microformats community. By day he evangelises microformats adoption to any team who will listen and is responsible for adding a gigantic deployment of the hListing format to price comparison site Kelkoo. Ben took an active interest in microformats whilst studying Computation at the University of Manchester, and became a community admin last year. He is involved in the development of new formats, liaison between communities to improve the accessibility of microformats, and is an active editor of the microformats documentation.


  • Is the phrase "reliable mashup application" an oxymoron?
  • Will we ever see one syndication format emerge to dominate or is babelisation inevitable? Desirable?
  • Do microformats need governance in order to work?
  • Is the mobile web a technological superset subset or mutation of the "original" web?
  • Can MMS be equated with WAP. Would that be a category error?
  • Has blogging run its course as a phenomenon?
  • Are microformats running out of steam or gathering steam?
  • How many forms of digital identity will I need to use the Web in 2010?