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

From: "Chris Fox" <>

> 1) All metadata is in fact data. How often do we explain, "it's data about


> 2) Meta-metadata is data about metadata, and therefore, falls into 1.


> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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.


Seth Russell

Received on Friday, 27 April 2001 11:58:52 UTC