Re: meta information

Liam Relihan (
Fri, 3 Jun 1994 10:41:27 +0100 (WET DST)

On Fri, 3 Jun 1994, Nick Arnett/Multimedia Computing Corp. wrote:

> Perhaps we aren't all looking at the value of the Web in the same way. I
> don't think that semantic tagging is an application-specific capability; it
> appears to be to be utterly essential to the Web's scalability. If it's
> not enabled, it's going to be very hard to find things.
> Without the possibility of semantic tagging, there's no way to automate the
> linking of Web documents in ways that take advantage of its capabilities.
> We'll be stuck with the old flat-file and relational models (which have
> already reared their ugly heads in this discussion) that have limited value
> in this environment. They have their place, but unless they're storing
> semantically related information, they'll have a hard time coping with the
> scale of information-sharing that's becoming possible.
> I'm bothered by the introduction of the relational model into this
> discussion. It's much too limiting. The relational model doesn't work for
> a few reasons. In a relational model, the number of sets of objects is
> basically fixed when the database is created. You can't easily add
> infinite new "columns." As I suggested earlier, in a semantic structure,
> you can add "fizzbins" any time.
> The second big problem is tht in the relational model, there's no way to
> express an object that inherits characteristics of two parents. For
> example, if you have manufacturing companies and service companies as one
> way of categorizing, and public companies v. private companies as another,
> the relational model has no way to express the full set of relationships.
> You have to express it as manufaturing companies that are public or private
> and service companies that are public or private, or the other way around,
> but not all of the relationships.

Agreed... complex documents (documents built in a recrusive tree
structure) such as HTML documents cannot be intuitively represented in
RDBs...we need semantic-type data models.

Unfortunately databases constructed according to these kinds of data models
tend to be filled with cross references and fact so many of
them that they *could* be very difficult to maintain manually.
Therefore, if we are interested in data integrity, we need to consider
building some kind of a database level (like HAM) into the web. Such a
database level would accept and serve document objects and maintain the
integrity of the links between them.
While I suspect that tables would be easier to manage manually, they are
not rich enough for the kind of document we are interested in.

Lets face it, data integrity is a big problem at the moment (links to
non-existent documents, etc), and it is a problem that can only worsen.

With all this talk of collaboration, complex semantic relationships etc. it
look like we are moving towards consideration of a layered hypertext
architecture. Development of such an architecture would probably prove to
be one of the most challenging internet development programs ever.
However, I reckon it is worth considering :-)

Just musing :-)


 Liam Relihan,                 |   |\       Voice: +353-61-333644 ext.5015
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