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RDF For Desktop Metadata? 167

claes writes "There is an article "Metadata for the desktop" that suggests that RDF should be used to describe data in desktop environments. This is an interesting idea. RDF is already used by Creative Commons to attach license metadata to its works. Mozilla also supports it. RDF was designed for the web, but can it also find its way to the desktop? And what metadata is most important to describe?"
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RDF For Desktop Metadata?

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  • by foidulus ( 743482 ) * on Saturday July 03, 2004 @07:58PM (#9602784)
    is porn!
    Suppose today I want to see shaved asian hardcore action. Now provided that metadata searches are integrated into the OS(like they will be in Tiger), all I need to do is a quick metadata search on my hard drive and boom, there is what I am looking for.
    I mean provided there was a decent standard(a porn standards body would rule!) and good regex capabilities built into the OS, I would be willing to pay for porn. I know that there are comments built into the jpeg standard, but there are all sorts of porn file formats, it would be helpful to have a universal standard across them. It saves time, beats trying to search on google and going through a lot of crap just to get to something good. I am a man on the run, I have places to go, I can't be bogged down by my porn. Plus, think of the people that get to catagorize this stuff(well, the fun stuff anyway, not goatse), what an awesome job that would be!
    I should probably post AC, but I figure this post is bound to earn me at least one fan and/or freak.
  • Definition:...? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Saturday July 03, 2004 @08:04PM (#9602819)
    Why don't slashdoters define what meta-data is in the first place? Google's define: metadata lists not less than 20 definitions. Are we talking about "data about data"?
    • Re:Definition:...? (Score:2, Informative)

      by ResidntGeek ( 772730 )
      • Re:Definition:...? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by doshell ( 757915 )
        So, data describing metadata would be called metametadata?
        • Re:Definition:...? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Saturday July 03, 2004 @08:21PM (#9602922) Journal
          Yep, it's called like that.

          I don't see with the thread started wanted a definition by Slashdotters in the first place, since it's already pretty well described [wikipedia.org] and AFAIK the word doesn't have several meanings.
          • Oh, but there were 20 definitions in google's define:metadata, and that's just so much to read. Had he read it, he'd have noticed that 13 have the exact phrase "data about data", 3 say "information about data" instead, one says "information about a file", one says "data about the data", one says "data that describes something", and one says "Data that provides information about, or documentation of, other data". I wouldn't have modded it interesting.
    • Re:Definition:...? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      In short, Yes.

      Say you have a digital photo. It's from a vacation you took in 2002, to hawaii, and contains photos of you, your partner, one of your children, but not your other kids and no pets. All that info could be kept as metadata of those pictures, and more.

      The same can be done for finance info for the year 1999 for you, or 2001 for your partner, or music files bought from a certain place, by a certain artist and band.

      While each of the filetypes above can have their own metadata (exif for images, co
    • All those definitions say the same thing, so what was your problem?
    • I never Metadata [wikipedia.org] I didn't like.
    • it is file info, resolution, dimensions, bitrate, keywords, framerate, previous owners of the file, access history, what colors are most common in a picture, who is in a pic. basically any information about a file you may want to know to sort or find that file
    • You got it, except that "data about data" or "information about information" is usually interesting, but a bit vague. In this case, we'd be talking about "Data about computer contents". We're actually super-classing, as it were, RDF, which is usually "data about written text", an article on slashdot, for instance.

      Your computer already stores data about its files and such, but that's metadata's readability by humans is a bit questionable(all the concepts except file name and an eventual comment only make
  • by PureFiction ( 10256 ) on Saturday July 03, 2004 @08:09PM (#9602841)
    I am a big fan of implicit filesystem feedback [peertech.org]. This can support all kinds of services from file sharing to most recently accessed search requests. Even fine tuning access controls in an RSBAC security policy.

    The big concern is keeping this data protected and private. You dont want to share all of your metadata with everyone, so security of these systems should be something to look at carefully.
  • by Amiga Lover ( 708890 ) on Saturday July 03, 2004 @08:11PM (#9602861)
    Are there any filesystems left that use forked files? Resource, Data and Metadata forks? Any at all?

    While MacOS was at a disadvantage being one of the only ones to use it, wouldn't it have been an excellent advantage for ALL filesystems to be forked?

    (I don't know the answer to this - anyone who knows more about filesystems, give your thoughts)
    • I think NTFS actually has a similar stream feature where such things could be embedded. Reiser has a concept that everything should be a file, so you might as well hope for M$ to release a driver for Reiser than Reiser to do forks... not sure about ext.

      NOTE: take this with a grain of salt, I know very little about filesystems.
    • According to http://www.tux.org/lkml/#s9-15, it's not happening in Linux filesystems.
    • by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Saturday July 03, 2004 @08:27PM (#9602947) Journal
      Forks? Would that be the NTFS streams [alcpress.com]?

      I think the new filesystem WinFS in Longhorn is basically just an evolution of NTFS streams to make them more accessible for the users. They've always been there, just not very accessible besides a limited set of text fields in the file properties dialog box in Windows. (i.e. they've always been able to hold custom data and have custom key names)
    • While MacOS was at a disadvantage being one of the only ones to use it, wouldn't it have been an excellent advantage for ALL filesystems to be forked?

      Well, one problem immediately springs to mind: The translation between different metadata formats. It's already a pain in the butt when using transferring files of not-so-popular types to the Mac.

      The second gripe I have with the Mac is that it's so friggin' hard to edit the metadata. AFAIK you can't even do it on OS 9 without software. Now assuming the user
    • by Anonymous Coward
      > wouldn't it have been an excellent advantage
      > for ALL filesystems to be forked?

      Yes, but the trouble of compatibility remains. But there is a simple solution for this: fork as dir bundles: Instead of a file with a metadata fork you simply put the metadata file and the datafile into a dir and give that folder the name of the datafile. The current users copy the dir around and use its contents. But modern OSes treat the dir as if it is the datafile when the user interacts with it.

      The metadata file sa
    • A couple of things about this:

      First off, the ability to use file type and other arbitrary metadata still exists in OSX (or HFS+, as the case may be). (More here [arstechnica.com].) This is above and beyond the much maligned resource fork.

      The real issue both with resource forks and (to a lesser extent) filesystem level metadata is inter-system transport, ie how do you ftp the metadata along with the file. This is what made resource forks such a PITA.

      Apple, it seems, has now moved away [apple.com] from putting the metadata in the FS,

      • You mean Apple will have to make its system exchange data with Windows which will use a system without the slightest thought to portability. I'm not trying to troll--this is less an issue of Apple believing in better code than it is a consequence of the fact that almost everybody uses Windows, so MS can afford to act like they are the only player, whereas Apple would be stupid to act the same.
      • The real issue both with resource forks and (to a lesser extent) filesystem level metadata is inter-system transport, ie how do you ftp the metadata along with the file. This is what made resource forks such a PITA.
        People used Binhex format for that, back in the MacOS 5-ish days, and there was nothing about it that was inherently a pain. It was just that in those days, the open-source movement hadn't really taken off, and there were a lot of people still wasting their time on the dead-end shareware scene.
    • I thought Ext2/3 supported "extended attributes", which are basically the same thing.
    • Going back someways, GEOS (on the Commodore 64 and 128, I don't know about other versions) had a version of this that they called VLIR (Variable Length Index Record) files.

      A VLIR file would have one sector, and that one sector pointed to multiple other sectors. One of the sectors was used for the "information sector" (info on the file), and simple VLIR files would then have the data in one of the other pointers.

      More complex applications, like geoWrite, would use one pointer per page of the document, this
    • Wouldn't extended attributes be a type of metadata fork?
    • Windows XP uses them on NTFS filesystems. If you set Explorer to Thumbnail preview mode, it a hidden file named thumbs.db with a separate stream that has the actual preview data in it. It's a terrible misfeature in many ways:

      1) The thumbnail file can get corrupted and the folder cannot be viewed.
      2) The thumbnail file takes space.
      3) The thumbnail file cannot be copied -- so explorer complains every time you do a select-all of the folder, or try to copy the file.
      4) If you burn the folder to disk, it prompt
  • Integration (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) on Saturday July 03, 2004 @08:17PM (#9602896)
    Why does the document complain about the lack of integration, then mention that Microsoft, Apple, the ReiserFS people, etc. are coming up with solutions, and then adds a completely new one? Shouldn't they just be supporting one Apple's or ReiserFS's efforts?
    • Nah, that's how they tried to fix the Western Schism. Everyone started lining up on different sides, until they gave up, kicked all three popes out, and elected a new one.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Sure. I have no objection to a more extensive use of metadata. In fact I crave it - must have it.

    But why oh why do people think that XML-based solutions is the way to go? An RDF solution would be bloat beyond belief. Ok, so it's not that bad for a few files, but when we get down to it - we don't have just a few files. We have plenty of them.

    So why not use something smaler? A simpler protocol?
    We can still have RDF-frontends for those that crave their daily XML-fix. Get real.
    • RDF does not equal XML. RDF is a way to express relationship through graphs. RDF/XML is one way to express these relationships, but there are other ways too. I thought that RDF always had to be expressed with XML too, but then I read the
      RDF primer [w3.org]. At first I thought it was extremely overcomplicated, but after reading some more I started to grasp the concepts. And they are not about storage formats. They are about semantics.

      • Yeah ... RDF is the simplest thing in the world. Subject+Property+Object ... Object is either another Subject, or a literal value.

        And N3 [or Turtle] is a far better serialization than XML.

        Semantics are important, but _agreement_ is even more so. The hope of RDF is that when we get away from the sillyness of XML and start agreeing about how to speak about relations [in terms of SPO], we can start talking about more interesting things like schema and semantics.
    • Last time I checked you can pick up HD storage space for $0.70 a GB.
    • I know this because ad-aware tells me so when I have it scan all my disks.

      The vast majority are very small files. How much more space would be required to give each one some RDF? And remember disk space is allocate in terms of sectors, or sometimes in blocks of several sectors, so small files waste proportionately more space.

      And that's just on the Windows installation for my PC. I also have Slackware Linux and BeOS on other partitions. Quite likely there are very nearly a million files on my PC alon

  • by Real Troll Talk ( 793436 ) on Saturday July 03, 2004 @08:24PM (#9602935) Journal
    Since most of us are advanced computer users or even computer experts, I think we largely know how to search for content.

    For one thing, I always give my filenames relevant titles, not things like document06.doc.

    Also, I already know how to search through files for content using basic grep or advanced Windows searching.

    I mean, sure, meta data like ID3 tags for MP3s that I steal offline are important because my Nomad mp3 player indexes based on that info, but in general I'd say meta data is not quite as important as some may suspect.
    • Well, I have a file called DocumentNo5.mp3, but its a rip of an R.E.M. album.
  • by doshell ( 757915 ) on Saturday July 03, 2004 @08:27PM (#9602948)

    I've heard the NTFS file system is designed to allow the system to add any number of properties (besides the obvious filename, last access time and permissions) to any stored file. This is likely to be exploited by Longhorn, which is planned to be capable of appending metadata to newly created files (for example, if you download a file from the Internet, the system would likely append a Originated-From-URL property to it).

    What I wonder is, is there any filesystem in the FOSS world that supports something like this, or are there plans to make it supported before 20??, when Longhorn hits the stores? I see this as a critical feature that must be made available by non-Windows OSes.

    • I don't think you can attach metadata to files with NTFS. If you can, I havn't seen the API for it anywhere while coding.

      Longhorn is using WinFS, which afaik is just a metadata layer slapped on top of NTFS.
      • Quoting from http://www.digit-life.com/articles/ntfs/ [digit-life.com]:

        Each file on NTFS has a rather abstract constitution - it has no data, it has streams. One of the streams has the habitual for us sense - file data. But the majority of file attributes are also streams! Thus we have that the base file nature is only the number in MFT and the rest is optional. The given abstraction can be used for the creation of rather convenient things - for example it is possible to "stick" one more stream to a file, having recorded

      • Longhorn is using WinFS, which afaik is just a metadata layer slapped on top of NTFS.

        The storage engine for WinFS will come from the mssql team so thats hardly "slapped on top"

      • by pizzarobot ( 633100 ) on Saturday July 03, 2004 @09:35PM (#9603200)

        Actually, you can. To add a metadata item called "hidden.txt" to a file called picture.jpeg, just type on the command line:

        notepad picture.jpeg:hidden.txt

        Notepad should say that it "created the file." You should notice that no new files have been created: just look for them with explorer. But you can later open this "file" and read and edit it.

        You can do this with any file with any metadata name.

    • I do know that NTFS supports "threads" or some such that there are alternate streams within a file. Alternate streams aren't called unless requested. There was a warning that a virus could hide itself within an alternate stream, such that a scanner wouldn't find it because they ignored the concept. Several years later there was an exploit made.

      Streams don't look too hard to deal with, it was just an ignored feature, like Windows Scripting, no few paid attention until it was exploited with a virus.
    • > if you download a file from the Internet, the system would likely append a Originated-From-URL property

      Software on Classic Mac OS did this years ago with the comment field--it was mighty handy.
    • I think XFS does; at least, some versions of ROX-Filer are capable of writing additional metadata about the filetype on XFS drives. My understanding was that ReiserFS v 3.x can, but I've never seen anything that uses it. Of course, Reiser4 will be able to, but I think it and Longhorn have joined Duke Nukem Forever in a race to the bottom...
  • by howman ( 170527 ) on Saturday July 03, 2004 @08:37PM (#9603006)
    and possibly How...
  • Spotlight (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Kesh ( 65890 )
    I'm mostly wondering if the new Spotlight [apple.com] feature of MacOS X 10.4 is going to be based on this, or a proprietary technology. I've been itching for cross-platform metadata file support for years now...
    • Re:Spotlight (Score:3, Informative)

      I don't see how considering that Spotlight is a search technology that leverages metadata already existing in files on OSX today and this article talks about tagging files with metadata.

      The search technology in Spotlight probably is inspired by live query from BeOS but first appeared at Apple in iTunes and later Preview for Panther.

      Many former Be Inc. employees work at Apple now and some had worked at Apple before joining Be.

  • by bigattichouse ( 527527 ) on Saturday July 03, 2004 @08:49PM (#9603051) Homepage
    for when I can just throw out the whole desktop in favor of a "cloud" of data... using google-like interfaces to find my stuff. I think it would be interesting to figure out how to tell a compiler where to find stuff...
    • I've thought about using hard links (or maybe simlinks would do) to turn my file tree into a graph. I was particularly interested in sorting things like MP3s, where I could have all of them in one big /Music directory, but also have /Music/Artist/[ArtistName]/[MusicFile] and /Music/Genre/[GenreName]/[MusicFile] without actually duplicating the file. The only hard part would be writing tools to create the links automatically.

      It would be good for doing things like grepping, but I wonder if a system-wide SQ
      • I too have wanted to do something like this. Is anyone aware of a tool or filesystem that would do this? It's sorta in the back of my mind as an idea for a thesis, but I dunno how appropriate it'd be.
        • Yes, it's called the Single-Instance Store on Windows Server 2003. When you create files on a Single-instance volume, the system creates a hash of the file, and (lazily) merges files with identical hashes. Copy-on-write semantics apply, so if you modify one of the merged files, the file is split.
  • by scupper ( 687418 ) * on Saturday July 03, 2004 @08:50PM (#9603054) Homepage
    Danny Ayers [dannyayers.com] has some interesting discussion on his blog about winfs and rdf [dannyayers.com]. There's also discussion of Jon Udell's Questions about Longhorn [infoworld.com].
  • by Knight2K ( 102749 ) on Saturday July 03, 2004 @08:58PM (#9603073) Homepage
    A group at MIT is using RDF for an integrated data management system. It's sorta like Outlook (or Kontact, if you prefer ;-) on steroids. It's called Haystack [mit.edu].

    I have to say, their ideas are intriguing, but after using it... I think the big shortcoming is that it's tough to come up with a generalized user interface for manipulating any data thrown at it. Haystack tries at this, and I think, fails at providing any kind of cues or context that tells you what your are dealing with. In Haystack, every task and piece of information you deal with looks very much like every other piece of data, because, as a design choice, Haystack every piece of data has the same rank as every other piece of data.

    Having different applications for different types of data usually make sense, if only to limit the amount of options presented to the user so they can make an intelligent decision about what action they want to perform. See this article on Slashdot about how users need limited [slashdot.org] since it makes decision-making too difficult psychologically.

    Inevitably, discussions around RDF and metadata always devolve into hand-wavy discussions on how the computer will be able to "magically" do smart things based on the metadata. But it really isn't magic and it isn't automatic at all. Equivalencies and mappings have to be created by humans along with the rules about what to do.

    RDF uses many concepts from AI research. Anybody who has read about this branch of computer science knows that the discipline has pretty much given up on creating AI in the 'sci-fi' sense as an impractical dream. That's what makes the Loebner prize [loebner.net] so controversial. I don't expect that computers will be intelligent enough able to relieve users of too much of the burden in assigning metadata.

    RDF is a promising approach, but if you read the article, it makes a lot of assumptions about what needs to happen to make the benefits real. Among them are establishing standards for what metadata fields apply to different types of objects: photos, people, music, etc. That kind of standardization won't happen overnight, if at all.

    The computer also needs to know what to do when it encounters that kind of data. The article mentions MIME and browsers and, in effect, says the browser can make a rational decision even if it hasn't seen a particular MIME type before. That isn't really true.. you have to install a plugin that tells the browser what to do, or have a registry that someone has put together where the browser can install the right plugin at the right time.

    That said, KDE's unification of contact information and passwords does show some of the promise of metadata efforts. And Apple's Spotlight looks like a good solution as far as it goes. I guess I'm just trying to make the point that the magic of metadata needs to be taken with a fairly large hunk of salt.
    • Having different applications for different types of data usually make sense, if only to limit the amount of options presented to the user so they can make an intelligent decision about what action they want to perform.

      I agree wholeheartedly that unifying desktop applications into one nebulous interface isn't a very useful way to give users access to their data. Mail clients make good mail clients, but they make lousy photo gallery browsers.

      That said, what I do wish we'd see more of is an effort for dif
  • by MichaelCrawford ( 610140 ) on Saturday July 03, 2004 @09:08PM (#9603111) Homepage Journal
    I have a couple of articles that have Creative Commons licenses, and I tried at first to include RDF in them.

    But when I tried to publish one article at Kuro5hin, the RDF code, which took the form of HTML comments, was displayed literally in the visible body of my article. That is, all the tags had been turned into entities so the tags appeared literally in the rendered text.

    I think Kuro5hin's Scoop content management system doesn't permit HTML comments. Maybe it's not trying to suppress comments, but it didn't occur to scoop's developers to allow them.

    RDF on the web would likely be much more popular if one could count on publication sites allowing it in the submitted markup.

    Another problem I had is that Creative Commons' recommended way to apply a license to a web page is not permitted by any of the community sites I frequent. CC-licensed web pages usually have a small banner that links to the license text. But for obvious reasons, sites like Slashdot and Kuro5hin don't permit images in article or comment submissions.

    The result is that, even for the copies of my articles on my own website [goingware.com], I use neither RDF nor the CC banner, because I want to make it easy for others to copy my CC-licensed articles to site that don't permit RDF or graphics.

    The way I apply the license is the much-less-cool method recommended for plain text files. I have the following text appear in the body of my articles:

    This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/1.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 559 Nathan Abbott Way, Stanford, California 94305, USA.

  • by pyrrhonist ( 701154 ) on Saturday July 03, 2004 @09:43PM (#9603228)
    After reading this article, I'm wondering if metadata is really going to be as effective as the author thinks it is. The author points out that, "the computer makes us do the work of a filing clerk". In other words, when you place a files on your computer, you normally place them into a folders to organize them, which is, "not fun". The author implicitly claims that metadata will solve this situation.

    But that's the problem! If it's not fun to organize items into folders, how is it anymore fun to add metadata to a file? I'm not talking about text files. Text files are easy, because you can pull the metadata out of them automatically (in fact, you can do this now with search tools). I'm talking about files that have to be explicitly tagged with metadata, like pictures. How is adding metadata to each picture file to categorize your vacation pictures any less laborious than placing the vaction pictures into their own directory?

    That's the problem as I see it. You still end up being a filing clerk! If people don't even organize their folders now, are people going to use metadata when it's available? Will improved search capabilities make users want to be clerks?

    In a nutshell, isn't it the same problem?

    • When I was a kid and would ask aloud where something was, my mum would say, "Look where you put it." It annoyed me to no end, of course, but years later I find myself "putting things where they belong" and emptying my mind of everything else, much like putting phone numbers in a phone book so one doesn't have to clutter up one's my mind remembering any of them.

      My own opinion is that there is no substitute for "putting things in folders." Boring, but true. Regular expressions and databases can go a long

    • How is adding metadata to each picture file to categorize your vacation pictures any less laborious than placing the vaction pictures into their own directory?

      It isn't. The file names are metadata. Links and Symlinks let you have multiple "metadata" entries. If directories represent categories, then you can link a picture into as many categories as applicable.

      In terms of power, metadata support is equivalent to support for links. In fact, metatdata could also be encoded into long file names - but th

  • CC is interested in desktop metadata developments. See this CC weblog post [creativecommons.org] from a few days ago.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday July 03, 2004 @11:07PM (#9603627) Homepage
    It's fun watching the XML kiddies re-invent concepts from LISP. They just re-invented property lists, "is-a" links, and much of the baggage that made SGML painful.

    Knowledge representation via "is-a" links has been tried, and it breaks down rather quickly. Read "Artificial Intelligence meets Natural Stupidity", by Drew McDermott, for a 20 year old critique of this concept. It's overkill for searching, and not powerful enough for reliable automated question answering.

    The Cyc debacle [cyc.com] illustrates how much work you have to put into tagging to get very little out. After twenty years of that money sink, it's still useless.

    • if you had RTFA, or even read anything in the last 20 years, you would probably know that XML != RDF. there is a XML implementation of RDF, called (duh) rdfxml, but that's far from the only way to describe RDF data. I have to agree though that rdfxml is one of the worst ways to do RDF.

      have a look at N3 [w3.org] or ntriples [w3.org] for starters.
    • "The Cyc debacle illustrates how much work you have to put into tagging to get very little out. After twenty years of that money sink, it's still useless."

      And after five years (and yes a lot of cash), the Gene Ontology is an incredibly useful tool for biologists.

      It's not the answer to everything, but it makes some things easier. This is enough.

  • by janbjurstrom ( 652025 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `raeenoni'> on Saturday July 03, 2004 @11:25PM (#9603694)

    I noticed the article made no mention of Pike (also the name of a fish - see language logo). Pike's a fine C-like scripting language ...that I know extremely poorly myself, but anyway..

    From Pike's official homepage [ida.liu.se] (at the University of Linkoping, Sweden):

    The release of Pike 7.6 marks the first results of a long-running project to make Pike the first scripting language for the Semantic Web. The current highlight in that respect is the support for W3C's standard formats RDF and OWL.

    Worth downloading [ida.liu.se] and checking out for other reasons [ida.liu.se] than "just" RDF & OWL [w3.org]. Free software, available under LGPL, GPL, and MPL (Mozilla Public License).

  • When looking into metadata, people should probably be sure to check out XMP [adobe.com]

    It's from Adobe, and whereas RDF just says how to format metadata, XMP addresses what to include in your RDF, and how to place it into different types of files. They have free libraries, but it's simple enough to follow even with your own code. And... given that it's how all Adobe products are doing metadata, at least in the publishing world it will probably stay something to pay attention to.

    Creative Commons has addressed this [creativecommons.org],

  • RDF (Score:2, Funny)

    by cyberfunk2 ( 656339 )
    Did anyone else read RDF and think.. Reality Distortion Field ( Steve Jobs)
    • Yep. Totally, especially from the little information i got from thr RSS feed, I thought the article was going to be about Jobs demoing Tigers' search tech.
  • Another format.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 12357bd ( 686909 )

    Good, yet another format to use/suffer!

    No matter how good those formats are (XML/RDF/etc) they all fail at the simplicity norm, the KISS principle.

    In the example of the article, by not using a simple text oriented format they innecesarily complicates the access by any program to these values, and that leads to the second point.
    The computational cost involved in parsing / validating all those formats; the day that our cpu's can process hundreds or thousands of simultaneous parsings without a noticeable i

  • I would say that RDF, or any XML format, is unacceptibly wasteful for metadata. Besides, many filesystems already support extended attributes. Why not use the mechanisms that were developed exactly for this purpose, instead of introducing a new and inferior one?

    Forgive my zeal, I just really hate the XML for everything mentality.
    • Firstly, RDF is not XML; its canonical exchange format encodes to XML, but there are plenty of other representations.

      Secondly, please explain how the implicitly-described files in your NTFS streams can be seamlessly shared over the Web in a composable way.

      The point of RDF on the desktop is that it does statement-level meta-data very well, and is Web-integrated.
      • Hmm, perhaps I should read up on RDF more, but everything I have seen that had anything to do with RDF was in XML. Saying that RDF is "Web-integrated" also says "XML" to me.

        As for sharing metadata over the web (I am not talking about NTFS about it, because until today I didn't even know it supported extended attributes), I think HTTP headeders perfectly fit this purpose - they are metadata, after all. Just encode every attribute in an HTTP header.

        Besides, the main use I see for metadata is to improve orga
  • I think there is too little metadata about installed applications in a regular Linux system. There is metadata in the packages (RPM for example), and there is metadata in the .desktop files. But the package metadata is on the package level, and does not describe each individual application it contains. The .desktop files are very sparse, and describes things that fit on one line of text or less. This makes it hard to write new kinds of user interfaces. I can't find any way to make a freshmeat like user int
  • There's been work on adding Dublin Core metadata support to Inkscape, for its next release [inkscape.org].

    The need for the metadata support is entirely practical in this case: the Open Clip Art Library [openclipart.org] requires all SVG submissions have proper metadata embedded, to ensure licensing and authorship correctness. Also, there is an SVG Clip Art Browser [openclipart.org] that uses the metadata info for its display.

    One interesting observation that's come up recently and is being discussed on the lists [inkscape.org] is what happens when you embed several

Some people manage by the book, even though they don't know who wrote the book or even what book.