Re: meta information

Nick Arnett/Multimedia Computing Corp. (
Thu, 2 Jun 1994 08:47:28 -0800

At 4:07 AM 6/2/94 +0200, Roy T. Fielding wrote:

> The META element can be used to embed document metainformation not
> defined by other HTML+ elements for use by servers/clients capable
> of extracting that information.


Without going too much into the details of the discussion, I'd like to
endorse this kind of structure whole-heartedly. It sounds like we're
working on things that are closely related, probably complementary.

Somewhere in the discussion that you copied, someone mentioned the idea
that the information in META elements might map to a relational model. I
hope it isn't that limited, is broad enough to include semantic models.
The Web today more closely follows a semantic model anyway -- documents
tend to be linked by meaning. Information in the META elements should be
usable for applying relational and other potential models to Web

I'd like one clarification -- you said "Servers should read the document
head to generate HTTP headers corresponding to any META elements with the
HEADER attribute..."

Do you mean to imply that META elements would only appear in the header? I
expect to use this type of tagging in the body as well, though I would will
only expect HEAD to return the ones in the header (along with the rest of
the header, of course).

For example, I can envision tagging the following sentence in the body of a
news article:

<meta person="Gates, William">Bill Gates, chairman of <meta
company="Microsoft" ticker="MSFT" SIC="1234567"> Microsoft Corp. announced
today that blah, blah, blah.

The result is that a search engine can look for people, companies, ticker
symbols, SICs or whatever else you might tag, without having pre-existing
knowledge of them. Conceptual searching becomes much easier.

However, I'm not sure that the meta scheme is quite perfect for this, since
there's nothing to show the end of the tagged phrase. And the following
seems to roam a bit far from your original intent and potentially be
confusing because it ends up with a different form:

<meta person="Gates, William">Bill Gates</meta>, chairman of <meta
company="Microsoft" ticker="MSFT" SIC="1234567">Microsoft Corp.</meta>
announced today that blah, blah, blah.

I'm curious what you and others think. Would it make sense to use META for
this purpose, or perhaps something similar?


Multimedia Computing Corp. (strategic consulting)
Campbell, California
"We are surrounded by insurmountable opportunity." -- Pogo