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What Brian Cant Never Taught You About Metadata

14 October 2008

Last month I had the pleasure of speaking at the Geek in The Park event up in Leamington Spa, here in the UK. Whilst the weather didn’t quite hold out in the way we’d hoped, the whole day was still good fun. The evening events took place under cover in a pleasant local half pub, half nightclub sort of place. On the bill was Jon talking about icon design, and me talking about Brian Cant.

Growing up in the 1980s, Brian Cant was a familiar figure in my childhood. He was the friendly face presenting Play School) on the television, reading a story on the BBC’s Jackanory or narrating the classic stop-frame animated Camberwick Green, Trumpton and Chigley series. On the drive up to Leamington Spa, and admittedly rather too late, it occurred to me that having been working on the web for more than ten years, it’s reasonably likely that a good proportion of the audience would be younger than me and therefore miss the cultural reference. Ah well. Kids these days.

As it happened, the presentation – which was a thinly veiled pitch for microformats – was well received and a good time was had by all. The presentation features thoughts on metadata, HTML, robots, 1970/80s children’s television programming, tofu, truth, honesty, and some made up rules stated as absolutes. The slides are of course on SlideShare, and once I manage to track down the audio and transcript, I’ll link to them here.

- Drew McLellan

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About Drew McLellan

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Drew McLellan (@drewm) has been hacking on the web since around 1996 following an unfortunate incident with a margarine tub. Since then he’s spread himself between both front- and back-end development projects, and now is Director and Senior Web Developer at edgeofmyseat.com in Maidenhead, UK (GEO: 51.5217, -0.7177). Prior to this, Drew was a Web Developer for Yahoo!, and before that primarily worked as a technical lead within design and branding agencies for clients such as Nissan, Goodyear Dunlop, Siemens/Bosch, Cadburys, ICI Dulux and Virgin.net. Somewhere along the way, Drew managed to get himself embroiled with Dreamweaver and was made an early Macromedia Evangelist for that product. This lead to book deals, public appearances, fame, glory, and his eventual downfall.

Picking himself up again, Drew is now a strong advocate for best practises, and stood as Group Lead for The Web Standards Project 2006-08. He has had articles published by A List Apart, Adobe, and O’Reilly Media’s XML.com, mostly due to mistaken identity. Drew is a proponent of the lower-case semantic web, and is currently expending energies in the direction of the microformats movement, with particular interests in making parsers an off-the-shelf commodity and developing simple UI conventions. He writes here at all in the head and, with a little help from his friends, at 24 ways.