Collection of metadata

Aquarion has suggested that we move LINKs to metadata from a given page into a separate XML format document, and then just have one LINK to this new document, in what he calls UMD. I’m sort of reserving judgement on this for the moment, because I’m unclear on exactly how it’s to work. Does it replace all LINK tags? It’s “to stop every visitor to my site having to download half a million \<link> tags contianing references to metadata.” But what’s metadata in this context? I’m assuming, say, that CSS is not metadata, because if you move your stylesheet LINKs into a separate file they won’t work. FOAF, on the other hand, is clearly metadata (and, moreover, about the page author, not the page), and Aquarion includes it in his example UMD document. I’m not seeing where the dividing line is, though; are \<link rel=”section”> tags metadata, or page navigation? What about next and previous? I expect that a discussion will develop in the comments. All that aside, I don’t think I like the idea anyway. It’s an optimisation for bandwidth. The rest of this is not really about UMD, I ought to note, but it’s a launchpad for the discussion, because it’s a very mild example of what I’m about to talk about. Optimising for current limitations means that we take a step away from the ideological purity of the semantic web and start making compromises for the sake of keeping page sizes down. We’re starting to move into an era where we can use standards rather than workarounds for everything — we’re moving from nested nested tables to clean CSS, we’re adding RSS summaries to pages, we’re pinging central servers and other linked-to blogs. There are implementation problems with all these technologies, but they’re not conceptual problems most of the time; we’re not compromising on the standards but attempting to meet them. Falling short of the purity of the standards but trying to get it right is better than corrupting the standard so that what we’re doing is “standards compliant” but the term doesn’t mean anything. People like Paul Ford (and presumably the W3C) are beginning to glimpse the potential available in the Semantic Web. But I don’t think we’ll get there if we start compromising early on. ——-

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