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Re: 'Meta' terminology (was RE: N3 contexts vs RDF reification)

From: Chris Fox <cfox@lds.com>
Date: Fri, 27 Apr 2001 12:46:41 -0400
Message-ID: <3AE9A271.997E57A9@lds.com>
To: Seth Russell <seth@robustai.net>
CC: www-rdf-interest@w3.org
Thanks, Seth--That was a great article reference. Very much worth the read.

All I was up to with Chomsky was alluding to a pattern of language outside of
(beyond or orthogonal to) actual utterances. So it was a rather orthogonal
reference anyway. Pursued too far, it breaks (and you broke it!).

For point 9, I was thinking in the topic map frame of mind of "published subject
indicators," and subjects from the Topic Map world. In other words if you are
looking for something truly "beyond" your data, then it needs to be the Object
corner of Sowa's meaning triangle, not the symbol corner, unless, by design, you
set up symbols that serve that function. Not sure whether that clarifies but it
sounds like we are more or less in agreement. No?

Seth Russell wrote:

> From: "Chris Fox" <cfox@lds.com>
>
> > 1) All metadata is in fact data. How often do we explain, "it's data about
> data"
>
> ok.
>
> > 2) Meta-metadata is data about metadata, and therefore, falls into 1.
>
> ok.
>
> > 3) "Meta" normally means beyond, not above.
> > 4) About and above are not the same concept.
>
> Ok.  I think even a better term might be "orthogonal" meaning not in the
> same plane.
>
> > 5) Anything stated in language, even if it is "about" language, remains
> > language.
>
> Ok.  Rotating orthogonally does not mean that we leave the N dimensional
> space of language itself.
>
> > 6) There is no metalanguage (unless you're a Chomskyan).
>
> Huh?  Me thinks this is a confusion.  Wasn't Chomsky talking about some kind
> of language organ wired into our brains, rather than the current topic which
> I take to be the mathematical properties of language itself?  It seems to me
> those are quite different topics.   It seems that language which talks about
> language can exist quite apart from our human's brains usage of same - else
> we must assume that language is not even processable by external computers
> .... in which case we should terminate this conversation post haste.
>
> > 7) If there were a metalanguage or metadata, it would be only ever be
> > known/understood/respresented as language or data.
> > 8) Cf. 6, there is no metadata.
>
> Except your premis 6 is quite questionable.
>
> > 9) Any metadata, if such a thing were possible, would be something like
> this:
> > what the data respresents external to the data structure (e.g., me as
> opposed to
> > the record with the fields pupulated by referents to things about me).
>
> I can't parse that :-(
>
> > 10) "True" metadata would need to be pointed to, not respresented in a
> data
> > structure.
>
> What's the difference ?
>
> > 11) Metadata is therefore only "meta" from the frame of reference of the
> data it
> > describes.
>
> I tend to agree (but not of course with the 'therefore' part).  If DataX is
> about dataY, then DataX is orthogonal to DataY.
>
> > 12) There is no ontological "meta."
> > 13 "Meta" is therefore a design decisison.
>
> I have no trouble with that.
>
> > Many of us know this, but it's good, once in a while, to reawaken to the
> > difference between maps and territories, the difference between topics and
> their
> > occurrences.
>
> I agree.  There is an excellant article [1] concerning these topics
> entiteled "Ontology, Metadata, and Semiotics" by John F. Sowa.  I think we
> can utilize the "The meaning triangle" [2] to help with our design decisions
> on RDF.
>
> [1] http://www.bestweb.net/~sowa/peirce/ontometa.htm
> [2] http://www.bestweb.net/~sowa/peirce/yojo.gif
>
> Seth Russell

--
-----------------------------------------------

Christopher G. Fox
Manager, Content and Information Architecture
Logical Design Solutions, Inc.

Tel: 212-269-4100, x2283

"When principles of design replicate principles of thought, the act of
arranging information becomes an act of insight."

--Edward R. Tufte
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Received on Friday, 27 April 2001 12:44:55 GMT

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