C H A P T E R 1
has been iMode in Japan and Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) in Europe,
which have set off a landslide of creativity among developers.
Metadata enables search engines to get better results with fewer hits, making
searches more precise and tailored to the users needs. Metadata enables per-
sonalization the current silver bullet of marketing prophets. Metadata lets
you filter out information you do not want (or that you do not want to reach
someone). It is really simple to add to a Web site. What is missing is software
and services that use it, but those are coming too.
However, this way of using metadata is scary to old-economy Chief Informa-
tion Officers (CIOs) and Web designers. You are giving control to the users. You
are giving information away, and it might decrease the number of hits on your
If your company still measures success on the Web in number of hits, fire the
Webmaster and the CIO. What matters is not how many people pass your store,
but how many people enter and buy. Fewer users may get the information, but
they are the right users, and the conversion rate among them will be higher.
The irritation of users who get your page when they were searching for some-
thing completely different will also decrease, increasing your goodwill by
Metadata is about relationships. It is about descriptions of resources, which
in this context are things which provide services: servers, database engines,
Webcams, anything that is providing information. When you write a table in
HyperText Markup Language (HTML), you have a set of relationships in mind
that describes the rows and columns. If this could be formalized in a machine-
readable language, the system could use those relationships, too. HTML ver-
sion 0.9 was very poor in most respects, compared to HTML 4.0. Yet it
contained the core of what was necessary to start off the industry. In many
respects, Resource Description Framework (RDF) is the same today.
The Web today runs on HTML, but it has become an old technology that can
only take you so far. You need new technology to enable new services. Indeed,
the traditional Web is proving to be a legacy that is hard to overcome. The way
information services are used and deployed in the new environment requires a
different kind of service than that which is available on the traditional Web: a
type of service that is more convenient, easier to use, and faster than the old
Web. And, of course, usable and useful on the old Web as well.
RDF was developed at the intersection between the knowledge management
world and the library metadata world. It is a graph system layered on top of
Extensible Markup Language (XML), and thus has two roots: Directed graphs,
which are probably more familiar to database programmers; and XML, which is
certainly familiar to the large contingent of programmers who have learned it
in the last few years.
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