Content or Metadata?

David Megginson david at
Thu Dec 2 18:15:44 GMT 1999

Walter Underwood <wunder at> writes:

> 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.

The second example is an interesting choice.  After all, the full OED
would probably count as metadata to people who bother to make the
distinction: it contains headwords and subheadwords, grammatical
information, and definitions, but the bulk of the dictionary is made
up of references to other printed works (word in context citations),
just as the bulk of Yahoo! is made up of references to other Web

So, is the OED content or metadata?  I dunno -- that's why I try to
avoid the terms whenever I can.  

This is a long-standing problem though.  In my former field, Medieval
studies, there are numerous examples of originally marginal glosses
and commentary (metadata?) becoming independently-distributed texts

All the best,


David Megginson                 david at

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