Re: Meta Tag [and Knowledge Representation]

Robert Hazeltine (
Mon, 20 Nov 1995 11:42:54 +1000 (EET)


On Fri, 17 Nov 1995, Daniel W. Connolly wrote:

> I'd like to point out that this thread has escaped the bounds of
> HTML, and has become a discussion of knowledge representation in
> general.

Maybe, but there is nothing like a little debate to sharpen up ideas. No?

> It happens quite a bit. Much of the value of HTML is its ability to
> capture and represent knowledge in an informal or semi-formal way.
> But folks often run into the boundaries of its expressive capability,
> and look for ways out.
> The META tag is intended for experiments on the edge of HTML's
> expressive capability. I haven't seen "the answer" to this problem
> that I'd like to standardize.

I think that this is begging the question. The original poster has
identified a serious deficiency in my view which is the lack of
meta-information, whether or not the present or future specs deal with
the problem with these elements.

If I can again re-iterate the problem: applications can be identified
(even if not always optimally) through the use of a file name and a
README which contains information about authorship, versions and
amendment dates etc sometimes as brief as a Revision Control System

At least people in the know can, for example, identify the distribution
copy of the netscape browser; others are going to pick it up at they go;
but it is identifable.

On the other hand, there is no equivalent for text material (HTTP aside).
Individual text files are the equivalent of a chapter, section or
whatever torn from a book so that there is no cover or front page to
identify it. Combine that with duplicate names and you might begin to
understand the problems of a mirror site that wants to archive text,
even before we get to the location (URCs, etc), catalogue and permanency of

> The point of my message is to encourage those of you who are seriously
> interested in this topic to become familiar with the existing work in
> the field: both the traditional library science cataloging (sp?)
> stuff, and the more wigged-out AI knowledge representation stuff.
> Reading the background literature will show just how interesting
> and complex this problem is. Hmm... maybe that's not 100% a good
> thing: the web was largely built by folks who didn't know enough
> realize that it couldn't be done :-)

So you really don't mind if I don't realise why something can't be done
about this problem :)

> [bibliography omitted]