You loaded it, you might as well read it

September 6, 2002

Some interesting things I’ve come across lately


More metadata activity

While the BlogMD initiative works out its data model (and its name), I’m continuing to update my Thread Description Language (which is looking more and more like my final name choice, it even has a reasonable abbreviation). I’ve finally sat down and typed up its RDF Schema. I’m not aware that any software can use it, but I figure it might as well get done sometime.

Some of the discussion among the BlogMD people led me to thinking about the Blogchalking project, which provides a coding convention for describing the authors of weblogs, particularly the area where they live. What intrigued me was that it didn’t use the traditional street address, instead it used a pathname-like hierarchy to identify locations. My hometown is United States/New Jersey/Chatham. This avoids dealing with the fact that street addresses have multiple formats world-wide and puts things in an order better-suited to matching.

Naturally, my thoughts turned to RDF: If I could work out some way to represent this, it could easily extend the functionality of TDL for weblogs. The result, which came to me late at night when I was trying to sleep, is WAIL, the Where Am I Language. (Where I Am makes more sense, but Where Am I leads to a better acronym.) Like the Blogchalking data, WAIL is not concerned with Post Office–friendly address formats; it is designed instead to identify locations in terms of other locations. WAIL adds place types and a much looser hierarchical structure, allowing you to pick your level of detail and specificity.

As an example of how multiple systems can work together in RDF, I’ve also posted this example RSS file which uses RSS 1.0, TDL, and the Dublin Core to describe a weblog, FOAF to describe the author, and WAIL to say where the author lives.

Meanwhile, in the non-RDF metadata world, I’ve posted an (incomplete) draft of the web threading HTML profile. This is a few definitions and a coding convention which can be used to create web pages that software agents can extract useful information related to threading from. It and TDL spring from the same source (in fact, the profile came first), but I’m just now getting some documentation up now that it’s been split into its own specification. Unlike TDL and WAIL, this one actually has some software which uses it. ZedneWeb conforms to a slightly-older version of the profile, and I have a Perl script which can pull the addresses, references, and a title for each post in a page. With some wrapper code, I use it to generate ZedneWeb’s RSS feed. (Ironic that the most implemented of my technologies is the least documented.) #