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Suggested conflict-resolution process for DRFa vs. Microdata using global metadata goals

From: Steven Rowat <steven_rowat@sunshine.net>
Date: Fri, 21 Aug 2009 10:51:23 -0700
Message-ID: <4A8EDE9B.9000803@sunshine.net>
To: public-html@w3.org
Dear List Members,

Perhaps the polarization in recent DRFa vs. Microdata discussions 
might be resolved by looking more closely at the global needs that 
such metadata systems are meant to satisfy. It seems to me that there 
has been a focus on detailed differences, without adequately relating 
these differences to the full range of the overall intent of metadata; 
this lack of a high-level goal framework makes it more difficult to 
analyze, defend, and aggregate various choices towards a final decision.

I see a resolution happening via the following (three-step) process:

    A. Discuss the global metadata needs and rank them in order of 
logical importance (a working list is given below). Achieve consensus 
on such a list, independent of what system will be used to implement it.
    B. Only then, compare RDFa and Microdata, separately, to the 
global needs, to see what they satisfy well, poorly, or not at all.
    C. Finally, on that basis, a comparison of RDFa and Microdata to 
each other can be done, I think, successfully: it should be possible 
to determine whether a particular relative strength of one or the 
other occurs at a less important level in the overall global goals and 
is thus of low relevance in the main decision (and can be ignored); or 
occurs as part of a high level goal and thus stands out as being of 
greater overall importance (and can't be ignored).

As a suggestion for starting Step A, here's my own preliminary list of 
five global metadata goals.


Goals of a W3C-mediated Global Metadata System
(ranked highest importance first*):

    1. To be created and to function in harmony with the existing W3C 
core guidelines (patent-free, royalty free, open-standard, etc.)

    2. To enable the creation of category names for data, so that 
software display, manipulation, amalgamation, transfer, sale, and 
other yet-unknown processes can be applied to the data on the basis of 
those categories, independent of what could be done if software 
attempted to examine only the data itself.
	Such category names should be:
	a) extensible, so that groups with any sort of need can create 
category names relevant to their uses of data;
	b) revisable, so that evolution in meaning of words or creation of 
subdivisions can be easily accomplished;
	c) universally accessible, so that any software with access to the 
internet can make use of them.

    3. To ensure the functioning of certain already-identified major 
social needs for metadata, eg:
	a) labelling of data that is intrinsically wordless, ie., audio files 
and graphics;
	b) intellectual collaboration and re-manipulation of data, ie., in 
scientific research;
	c) sale of digital services and digital goods, ie., purchase of web 
services; purchase of digital works;
	d) copyright and usage permission information for all types of works, 
whether used freely or purchased;

    4. To be as simple as possible in user interface (including both 
coding language and logical organization), ie., to be relatively easy 
to adopt by anyone capable of writing HTML, so that use of the 
metadata system does not have a significantly higher barrier to entry 
of either cost or expertise than HTML already entails.

    5.  To allow back-compatibility with previous (and current) 
metadata solutions that have been applied to problems shown in step 3; 
ie., vCard, microformats, etc....


*The first goal, harmony with existing W3C policies, is unlikely to 
need discussion, but I believe it is important to include it in its 
proper position, before and enabling the other levels.


That's my offering. I hope it can be useful.

I'd like to add that before the need for this list of goals occurred 
to me, I had some strong opinions in the RDFa/Microdata discussion. 
But I now see that those were based on hasty conclusions that often 
didn't consider at least some of the more important factors in this 
list of goals. So I'm back to being neutral, and hopeful that having a 
suitable group of people working through this list might end in a more 
accurate choice.

Steven Rowat
Received on Friday, 21 August 2009 17:52:32 UTC

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