W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-rdf-interest@w3.org > November 2000

Re: Semantic Document Framework(s)

From: Aaron Swartz <aswartz@swartzfam.com>
Date: Wed, 08 Nov 2000 22:39:16 -0600
To: "Sean B. Palmer" <sean@mysterylights.com>
CC: <www-rdf-interest@w3.org>, <www-talk@w3.org>
Message-ID: <B62F8694.1C5DA%aswartz@swartzfam.com>
Sean B. Palmer <sean@mysterylights.com> wrote:

>> Formation, perhaps, but the content has to come from somewhere. People are
>> notoriously bad about writing metadata.
> Hopefully the task will be made a lot simpler with WYSIWYG editors.

I think you may be missing my point. People don't like _writing metadata_.
They do not write it in their house, they do not write it with a mouse, they
do not write it when in beta, they just don't write up metadata! ;-)

No matter how easy you make it for them, people don't want to write the
metadata. They want to write their data, and be done with it. See bad
choices on file names/directory structure, the little used Microsoft Word
metadata box, etc.

>> Excuse me if I'm wrong, but I thought this was a goal for XHTML and XSLT.
>> I've also heard things about the next generation of WML being an XHTML
>> profile/subset.  I don't see how metadata description helps such files
>> creation.
> How do you transform HTML into WML 1.0/1.1? You can't because they are so
> different, HTML is so much more complex than WML.

Speaking as the author of a piece of software that converts HTML to plain
ASCII, I'm pretty sure HTML can be transformed into nearly anything. ;-) If
you write your XHTML well, it can easily be transformed into any format, I'm
sure WML wouldn't be too hard (although links might take some fiddling...).

As the W3C Mobile Activity Statement puts it:

<q cite="http://www.w3.org/Mobile/Activity">
Given that mobile devices are different in their capabilities from ordinary
PCs, what are the repercussions for markup? Because of the constraints
explained above, mobile devices are unlikely to be able to use exactly the
same markup as a normal page for a PC. Instead they will use a subset of
HTML tags. The expectation is that different devices will make use of
different modules of XHTML; similarly they will support different modules of
style sheets. For example, one mobile device might use the basic XHTML text
module and the style sheet voice module. Another device with a large screen
might also allow the XHTML tables module.

I believe what you're looking for is the stated goal of XHTML modules, and
without any of the complexity.

>> Better semantic tagging helps, though.
> Precisely: if you had a semantic XML source, you could go to either XHTML or
> WML easily.

Yes, but what format do is the source in? If it's a generic format, you lose
a lot of meaning and you're likely duplicating the goal of XHTML. If it's a
specific format, then you have to rebuild XSLT, converters, etc. for each
new file. It's a tricky problem.

> The main fact is that HTML is a fairly presentation based markup language
> that says very little about its content; the second point is that the SW
> will require some kind of (semantic) output medium. Why not do both in one
> go?

Because they have two very different audiences, requiring nearly two
completely separate versions?

> As this obviously requires semantic document formats, SDF type structures
> have to be implemented, and work, to ensure the SW comes about. If not, why
> on earth are we bothering for?

I wish it were possible, but I just don't see how to do it. I'm thinking of
my typical (really bad) SW example: weather data. I want to state that it's
70 degrees today in Chicago. How?

HTML: "November 8, 2000: It's a nice chilly 70 degrees here in Chicago."
 XML: <weather>
SDF?: <weather><date c="2000-11-8">November 8, 2000</date>: It's a nice
chilly <temp c="70F">70</temp> degrees here in

Oy, what a mess?

> The whole point of RDF is as metadata to XML: if you believe that people
> aren't going to bother writing metadata for their documents, then why should
> any of us bother with RDF? The answer is that HTML and the current WWW are
> reaching the limits of what they can do, and the Semantic Web and associated
> techologies are the future...

True, but RDF allows people to write metadata at any time, anywhere. You're
trying to stick them right in the original document!

> We just need to do more *doing*, and that's all I'm trying to achieve with
> SDF.

Agreed. To a better Web,

[ Aaron Swartz | me@aaronsw.com | http://www.aaronsw.com ]
Received on Wednesday, 8 November 2000 23:39:54 UTC

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