PicoFormats

Picoformats, are like Microformats, but smaller.

Specifically, where a microformat is full XHTML, which I mentioned here previously, a Picoformat is a standard-means for defining markup in small, probably mobile, devices. They are not necessarily in XHTML, and probably not, as XHTML is rather heavy and takes up a lot of screen/memory space. Additionally, writing out long-bits of info take too long on a limited form factor like a phone.

An example Picoformat is the "@" symbol used in an SMS to then specify a location, such as in Flagr or Dodgeball.

Another solution might be something like Zlango's "picture" dictionary. Using a standard - though rather varied - set of icons, 2 people can "draw out" a message, across language barriers, and convey large amounts of information with minimal clicks. I highly recommend you try out their Zlangulator.

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Andrew Turner is an advocate of open standards and open data. He is actively involved in many organizations developing and supporting open standards, including OpenStreetMap, Open Geospatial Consortium, Open Web Foundation, OSGeo, and the World Wide Web Consortium. He co-founded CrisisCommons, a community of volunteers that, in coordination with government agencies and disaster response groups, build technology tools to help people in need during and after a crisis such as an earthquake, tsunami, tornado, hurricane, flood, or wildfire.