Comments: 4

  1. >formatting data (“this is a chapter,” “this is a footnote”)

    While this information is often used to drive formatting, it’s not formatting metadata. It’s structural metadata. Formatting metadata says things like “output this in italics” or “indent this half an inch.”

    This is a very important distinction, because structural metadata is what XML is all about. Structural metadata is what makes addressing of document components possible, and therefore what makes component re-use possible.

    For an excellent classification of metadata, see slide 3 of Eric Childress’s OCLC presentation “Metadata Standards” at

    Also, when people talk about “tagging” in the Web 2.0 sense, they’re talking about assigning key terms as metadata. When people talk about tags in XML, they’re talking about adding delimiters to elements. If you’re talking about both, you should try to be more careful in how you use the term to make it clearer which you mean.

    >When you say “diamond,” are you talking about baseball or gemstones or Neil?

    And when I say “title,” am I talking about the deed to a piece of property, a job title, or the title of a work? When I say, I’m clearly talking about the title of a work. This is why RDF uses URLs.

  2. “this is a footnote”

    should be considered as (nearly ?) formatting metadata, considering the “foot” vs “end” note usual alternative.

    It can be tricky to set a boundary between structure and format when technological artifacts are widely used for various purposes and there is not — or not yet — a consensus about assigning them semantic and pragmatic features:

    For instance, bviously pop-ups are used to display notes, or glosses, translations, … and I guess most of us would agree that tagging an element as a pop-up should be considered a formatting indication.

    Would we have the same consensus if the same element was tagged as a different page or window, with more options (moving, pinning, resizing, …)?

  3. PS:
    I couldn’t post my original comment, rejected as wrong text because instead of ‘nearly’ I had written ‘on the v.e.r.g.e of’ — without periods.

    Silly how ‘strong language’ filters spoil expression…

  4. @Alain: Sorry about the “wrong text” glitch. The ongoing battle against spam really puts a crimp on conversation.