Metadata, Resources, and the Resource Description Framework
better. Not only can it lead to enormous savings because you will not have to
reinvent the wheel several times; it can also help you relate your information
to that of your competitors, and discover how your company should develop to
do a better job of servicing your customers.
Take Helen Farnsworth, who is a salesperson at historybuff.org, a company
that publishes interactive games based on historical battles and other events.
In reality, it is a division of major games maker Arcaditopia, and this is exactly
why Helen is in trouble. She has a customer who is interested in their new
game for a nationwide chain, but she cannot answer his questions, especially
not about Elba. She can t answer mainly because the questions are about the
historical accuracy of the game, and while she can tell the customer everything
about the shelf space the game will take, and how much memory it will use, she
does not know who beat Napoleon at Waterloo.
So she does a quick intranet search. The regular search engine gives her sev-
eral hundred answers, among them Napoleon Jones in the accounting depart-
ment. She searches for individuals with knowledge about Napoleon the
historic person, and throws in Elba to make sure. Her meta-search engine
helps her to find Herbert Wollmeyer III, the resident expert on the Napoleonic
wars. And his 100 quick questions about Napoleon tells her everything the
customer asks about Elba (like, it s a part of Italy). And the customer buys
The systems ribed in these quick scenarios get information that is customized
in some sense. They get you an information set adapted not just to your per-
sonal profile (such as your credit rating), but also to the device mobile phone,
PDA, or PC that you are using. Everything I describe above, you can get from
the Web today. But you can get it only from isolated systems, and you can only
use it for your PC, as a rule.
The implementation of these systems is very different from the traditional com-
puter systems you are used to, however. They are generating information based
on profiles, and creating optimized profiles based on the different profiles that
are being received from the client, describing it and its situation. Using RDF, of
What Do You Need to Do?
As a site owner, there are a few things you need to do to create metadata for
your site. As of today, there are few tools that let you insert the data automati-
cally, especially if you are using XHTML. However, a summer intern and some
clever programming will give you a metadata system that can be used in
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