Some questions

Tim Bray tbray at
Wed Dec 1 23:45:32 GMT 1999

At 02:02 PM 12/1/99 -0800, Walter Underwood wrote:
>I disagree on this one. It's rare that metacontent is more
>valuable than content, long-term. I'll bet on the books over
>the card catalog, every time.

Wow, that's a profoundly deep and strong statement, and I think at the
core of the argument that *should* be happening about how to make the
Web a better place.  In fairness, it should be said that Walter works for
a company whose search engine does the equivalent of reading all the
pages of all the books on all the shelves, and trying to guess what the
books mean.  I used to be in that business myself.

But I think metadata wins.  If you count hits on Internet search engines,
the Yahoo and ODP directories, which are both human-constructed metadata, 
absolutely wipe out any fulltext search engine you can name, even though
they have orders of magnitude less sites and a lower volume of information
about each.  Because human-constructed metadata wins on the net just like
it did in the library.  

RDF is important because it can facilitate the interchange of, and 
a certain number of the common uses of, this kind of metadata.

Anyhow, just because you have a card catalogue doesn't mean you throw
the library books away. -Tim

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