Some questions

Walter Underwood wunder at
Thu Dec 2 17:27:08 GMT 1999

At 03:46 PM 12/1/99 -0800, Tim Bray wrote:
>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, ...

This is a subtle issue -- in aggregate, the metacontent is used 
more, but each user spends more time with content than with metacontent. 
The better the directory or search engine, the less time you need to 
spend with it (an interesting conflict when you are ad-supported).

Here are stages of having the info (content) that you want,
ordered in increasing amounts of wasted time.

1. I have the information.
2. I know where the information is.
3. I know it exists, but I don't know where it is.
4. I don't know if it exists.

Only the last two need some sort of metacontent or finding aid.

Organizing and indexing content is a time-saver, and sometimes that
is essential. Sometimes, the metacontent has the whole answer (which
companies sell rhinestone tiaras), but most people really want to 
buy the tiara.

So I still put my money on Jane Austen or the OED over the 
card catalog. Heck, I'll put my money on Fanny Burney or 
40,000 Words over the card catalog.

On the other hand, I strongly agree that metacontent should be 
interchangable, both in syntax (RDF) and in data (e.g., AACR2 
for author names). I just wish that the RDF spec was as clear
as AACR2.

PS: My wife did need to buy a rhinestone tiara, and I was really
impressed by the results for that search. Who would have guessed
that the web has dozens of places to buy those?
Walter R. Underwood
Senior Staff Engineer
Infoseek Software
GO Network, part of The Walt Disney Company
wunder at (my product)

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