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Subject: Metadata: Engineers, Be Not Afraid!


I know when I first encountered metadata discussions years ago my 
reaction as a hard core SGML markup junkie was probably quite similar to 
that of a number of engineers.

I can't say I was overjoyed at the prospect of discussion of terms like: 
CompositeTangibleAndIntangibleObject (examples at end of post) and 
similar things that would drag on for months if not years.

But, much has been learned in the last decade or more of metadata 
discussions. Such as where most of the ratholes are and not attempting 
to be the ultimate solution, for anything. Not to mention experience at 
incorporating metadata into markup solutions.

There are a number of members of this TC with extensive experience with 
metadata issues. I am sure none of them are interested in revisiting any 
of the known ratholes of prior metadata discussions. I am not sure how 
that would look in a subcommittee charter, "The subcommittee will not 
revisit any known metadata ratholes." but if it would make anyone more 
comfortable I would not oppose it. ;-)

Seriously, I know time is too short to produce any really complete 
proposals prior to discussion/voting on a metadata subcommittee, but I 
think it would be worth asking during that discussion, who is interested 
in proposing a plan of work and when do they think they could have 
something before the subcommittee. There is nothing sacred about having 
a subcommittee in fact and in place before starting to work on such 
proposals and in fact it would make the first or second meeting of such 
a subcommittee (if approved by the TC) more productive than most of the 
ones I have attended.

The other thing to note is that I suspect most of those interested in 
metadata are interested in an engineering (here in the sense of markup) 
solution that allows users creative ways to use metadata in ODF. That is 
to robustly support metadata, but to fashion as little of it on our own 
as possible. Outside of office applications, which needs better 
metadata, I suspect we lack the domain knowledge to write metadata for 
other people. We can, however, give them a very nice home for what they 
write in ODF.

Hope everyone is having a great day!


PS: Oh, CompositeTangibleAndIntangibleObject = collection of individuals 
with tangible and intangible components. ;-)

Examples: people (mind and body), information bearing objects 
(intangible information on tangible media) book, CD, etc.

Patrick Durusau
Chair, V1 - Text Processing: Office and Publishing Systems Interface
Co-Editor, ISO 13250, Topic Maps -- Reference Model
Member, Text Encoding Initiative Board of Directors, 2003-2005

Topic Maps: Human, not artificial, intelligence at work! 

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