A post over at Inkdroid highlights the SNAC project, an effort to uncover and formalize person and agent data that is typically mixed into online archive records. A new standard is associated with the work, but even better is the mention of new techniques to pull this data out of records, regardless of the record’s disposition to the standard. Of course as the Inkdroid post points out microformats could go a long way to easing that process.
I really like these sorts of efforts. Agent information and contact profiles are fast becoming first-class entities on the web (see Mozilla Labs experimental Contacts add-on). Particularly for contact profiles, there may be backlash against formalizing such data as a resource, perhaps as impinging on the ideal of anonymous cyberspace so praised during the Internet’s early ascendance. It seems however that unless this data is formally handled and dealt with, privacy and control issues will continue to plague its use.