RE: techniques for better as well as for good [was: Re: programaticallylocated.doc]

Responding to Gregg's original proposal and Al's comments, often the
author-specified dictionaries may not be what the user needs. Rather,
the user typically requires a certain type of dictionary, for example
a multilingual dictionary providing translations or definitions in a
preferred language. These can be radically different from whatever
dictionaries the author has chosen. Furthermore, as Al indicated, a
list of available definitions is insufficient; what is required,
rather, is the correct definition.

My proposal is to attach metadata to the content, or parts of the
content, that specifies subject descriptors taken from a controlled
vocabulary, such as appear in bibliographic records. Downstream
software (i.e., server-side or client-side tools) can then make use of
this classification scheme, together with the user's preferences
regarding languages and dictionaries, to establish a suitable list of
dictionaries to be looked up, and an appropriate search order. A
typical dictionary also categorizes definitions by subject matter. To
the extent that this is achieved, it enables the correct definition to
be programmatically  determined.

For example, the word "field" has an entirely different meaning in an
article on agriculture to that which it conveys in an algebra
textbook. If the content is labelled in metadata as related to
algebra, the retrieval software can either search a mathematics
dictionary for the precise, technical definition, or find it in a more
general dictionary, provided that the latter is appropriately marked
up to distinguish mathematical definitions from the remaining

This suggested approach could of course be combined with direct
specification of dictionaries by the author; the two proposals are by
no means mutually exclusive.

Received on Tuesday, 10 August 2004 00:27:10 UTC