[Theforum] Metadata (was: Advocacy (was Getting in the monthly recap))

rudy r937 at interlog.com
Tue Jan 8 20:08:54 CST 2002

> Is there a definitive list of everything we claim to offer?

i'd like to focus on this most excellent question

yes, joel, there is

what you're asking for is called metadata

a most fascinating field, in which i've been professionally involved for

usability and information architecture are deeply concerned with
metadata -- for example, consider articles and categories, and whether an
article can belong to more than one category, and the impact on navigation
and linkage that this has, to say nothing of the process for adding
articles, and maybe moving them across categories...

storing and maintaining metadata is often as challenging (think of the
impact on the productivity of development teams) as storing and maintaining
customer data -- for example, lack of metadata in some cases can bring
development to as dead a halt as lack of key customer data such as credit
card number

i could go on for hours and hours about metadata, but i won't

here it is in a nutshell:  the definitive list of everything is the live

actually, i should say sites, and it's really the "live" part that
counts -- live, real, official, production, whatever word you like

live includes weo, leo, feo, and even teo (in the sense that it's our
live testing site)

pay no attention to that man behind the curtain telling you that there's
nothing on the site that describes the site, that all the juicy bits of
metadata are either locked up in somebody's head (surely you do not need me
to cite examples) or, thankfully, saved as documents in somebody's personal
site (e.g. http://members.evolt.org/rudy/evoltb.gif)

one way to manage metadata is to treat it like other live data -- a trick i
learned from working with "active" data dictionaries which integrate
user-oriented column definitions with database-generated column specs (ask
me separately or offlist if you are interested in this)

a real good example is the evolt faq category, which documents stuff that
people need to know -- these are really meta-articles, aren't they? yet we
manage them exactly the same as the "real" articles

so the answer to your original question, joel, about "everything we claim
to offer," is:  the site map

i'm hoping javier will submit it as an article, because that will give
us the opportunity to manage it (edits, approval) the same as our other
meta-articles, as well as our "real" articles

conceptually speaking (and this is a subtle point), until javier submits
the site map meta-article, the definitive list of everything we offer
exists in virtual metadataland, the sum total of the esoteric experience
of (a) surfing all the pages on our various sites that you can find on your
own by navigating the site, and (b) information that is unreachable through
the site's links but somebody told you the url or [gasp] sent you the info

it's (b) you were asking for, admit it

well sir, offline documentation is an abomination, and i will never
surrender in my efforts to convert all necessary metadata to the existing
site structure

look what a great job we did on the evolt graphics -- you know what it was
like to try to find the official images before that article went up?

and look at the great start we made on the community news category

isaac's article (The evolt.org Monthly Recap) should be moved into the
evolt.org FAQ category, and updated with specifics -- like, who's doing the
recap for january

come on folks, isaac's article is the metadata for community news, we did
it *right* on this one

and it's not that hard to keep the ball rolling

let's not get all warped out of shape trying to nail down the "process" of
who writes it, and who adds to it, and who created the placeholder article,
and whether submissions are made by sending to the contact address (why is
this even in question? this is what our metadata says, we must've agreed to
this already)

look, why don't we ask for volunteers and see if there's anybody keen to
take it on for january

martin's done december, so let's have somebody else take january (and take
over the placeholder january article that's up there already), and if that
person is not QUOTE subscribed to the admin list UNQUOTE then i
personally will ensure that any contact emails containing community news
are sent to him or her, and let's leave it up to this person whether to
submit a placeholder article in advance

sound okay?


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