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Re: Number, Date, Time, Quantity

From: Mark Birbeck <mark.birbeck@x-port.net>
Date: Thu, 7 Sep 2006 10:40:03 +0100
Message-ID: <640dd5060609070240g411b410dt7e84a9101042e949@mail.gmail.com>
To: www-html@w3.org

Hi Lachlan,

> I think it's quite clear to a human reader that Jan is a Prime Minister.
>   It's not clear from that sentence which country he is from, but that
> wasn't indicated in original example of Tony Blair either.  However, one
> can assume the sentence would be in the context of an article that would
> indicate such information, or the sentence could have been written more
> like either of these:
>
>    "The Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Jan Peter Balkenende, will
>     today travel to..."
>
>    "The Dutch Prime Minister, Jan Peter Balkenende, will today travel
>     to..."

No offence, but I think you've completely missed the point of what the
mark-up is trying to do, and the role that *metadata* is playing.

Sure, an author can write a document that contains all the clues
necessary for a human reader to infer everything they might want to
know around the subject. But that isn't generally how news stories are
written. It's quite common to see a news item that only talks about
"the Prime Minister" or "tomorrow", without telling us that it
specifically means "Tony Blair" or "September 8th"--the human reader,
as you say is quite capable of filling in the gaps.

But what happens when that news story is read in 10 years time? Or
what if someone searches for articles about "Tony Blair"? (They won't
find this one since it actually doesn't mention him by name.) Or what
if it's read by a child in the Netherlands, doing research for a
school project? The article gradually loses its usefulness the further
you get away from its context, both geographically and over time.

Now, if some tool adds this context information back in at the time of
authoring, you can preserve the article's usefullness:

  * search engines can now match this document if a user searches
    for "Tony Blair";

  * user agents could provide links or tooltips about the item in
    question, even to the level of making those links different for
    school kids and adults.

As it happens, the latter example is best done with some of the other
RDFa features, but the point is still valid.

One final thing, the news industry standards body, the IPTC, has an
XML language called NewsML which marks up articles in exactly this
way. It's used by Reuters, the BBC, and so on, so that they know
exactly what they are dealing with; it has values for currencies,
companies, people, events, and so on.

Regards,

Mark

-- 
Mark Birbeck
CEO
x-port.net Ltd.

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Received on Thursday, 7 September 2006 09:40:13 GMT

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