Content or Metadata?

Tim Bray tbray at
Thu Dec 2 19:14:59 GMT 1999

At 01:14 PM 12/2/99 -0500, David Megginson wrote:
>The second example is an interesting choice.  After all, the full OED
>would probably count as metadata to people who bother to make the

These are murky waters.  But there are a couple of things that are
incontrovertably true:

1. All metadata is data.  Given an aggregation of data items, each 
   application can and will make its own decisions as to which is "data"
   and which "meta".  Thus a common syntax for both, to the extent
   possible, is a good thing.
2. Not all data is metadata.  Examples: this email message; Chopin's
   Nocturnes; Tuxedo.gif.  

Operationally, my experience suggests that in stuff that is
not metadata, ordering matters.  The converse is true; if ordering matters, 
it's probably not metadata.   There are exceptions but you have to
work pretty hard. -Tim

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