Aliases: Instances of good writing
Examples of good writing (Category ) .
http://svnbook.red-bean.com/ Version Control with Subversion
http://www.hymn-project.org/jhymndoc/ -- Screenshots, numbered lists, pretty style, emphasized words
http://www.hymn-project.org/jhymndoc/jhymn_faq.php -- Information that's useful, readable, and accessible (readable by non-techies)
English - the universal language on the Internet? (http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/lingua-franca.html#xtocid40672). : the article as a whole
In early 2005, I made the plunge, and started my own company: International Technological Solutions. Since then, I have worked numerous hours, for little pay, but isn’t it interesting !
1. Introduction Metadata is "data about data" -- information like keywords, page-length, title, word-count, abstract, location, SKU, ISBN, and so on. Explicit, human-generated metadata has enjoyed recent trendiness, especially in the world of XML. A typical scenario goes like this: a number of suppliers get together and agree on a metadata standard -- a Document Type Definition or scheme -- for a given subject area, say washing machines. They agree to a common vocabulary for describing washing machines: size, capacity, energy consumption, water consumption, price. They create machine-readable databases of their inventory, which are available in whole or part to search agents and other databases, so that a consumer can enter the parameters of the washing machine he's seeking and query multiple sites simultaneously for an exhaustive list of the available washing machines that meet his criteria. If everyone would subscribe to such a system and create good metadata for the purposes of describing their goods, services and information, it would be a trivial matter to search the Internet for highly qualified, context-sensitive results: a fan could find all the downloadable music in a given genre, a manufacturer could efficiently discover suppliers, travelers could easily choose a hotel room for an upcoming trip. A world of exhaustive, reliable metadata would be a utopia. It's also a pipe-dream, founded on self-delusion, nerd hubris and hysterically inflated market opportunities. 2.1 People lie Metadata exists in a competitive world. Suppliers compete to sell their goods, cranks compete to convey their crackpot theories (mea culpa), artists compete for audience. [...] That's why:
2.2 People are lazy You and me are engaged in the incredibly serious business of creating information. Here in the Info-Ivory-Tower, we understand the importance of creating and maintaining excellent metadata for our information. But info-civilians are remarkably cavalier about their information. Your clueless aunt sends you email with no subject line, half the pages on Geocities are called "Please title this page" and your boss stores all of his files on his desktop with helpful titles like "UNTITLED.DOC." This laziness is bottomless. No amount of ease-of-use will end it. To understand the true depths of meta-laziness, download ten random MP3 files from Napster. Chances are, at least one will have no title, artist or track information -- this despite the fact that adding in this info merely requires clicking the "Fetch Track Info from CDDB" button on every MP3-ripping application. Short of breaking fingers or sending out squads of vengeful info-ninjas to add metadata to the average user's files, we're never gonna get there. 2.3 People are stupid Even when there's a positive benefit to creating good metadata, people steadfastly refuse to exercise care and diligence in their metadata creation. [...] The fine (and gross) points of literacy -- spelling, punctuation, grammar -- elude the vast majority of the Internet's users. To believe that J. Random Users will suddenly and en masse learn to spell and punctuate -- let alone accurately categorize their information according to whatever hierarchy they're supposed to be using -- is self-delusion of the first water. 2.5 Schemas aren't neutral In meta-utopia, the lab-coated guardians of epistemology sit down and rationally map out a hierarchy of ideas, something like this: [...] In a given sub-domain, say, Washing Machines, experts agree on sub-hierarchies, with classes for reliability, energy consumption, color, size, etc. This presumes that there is a "correct" way of categorizing ideas, and that reasonable people, given enough time and incentive, can agree on the proper means for building a hierarchy. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Any hierarchy of ideas necessarily implies the importance of some axes over others. A manufacturer of small, environmentally conscious washing machines would draw a hierarchy that looks like this:
- Your mailbox is full of spam with subject lines like "Re: The information you requested."
- Publisher's Clearing House sends out advertisements that holler "You may already be a winner!"
- Press-releases have gargantuan lists of empty buzzwords attached to them.Energy consumption: Water consumption: Size: Capacity: Reliability
While a manufacturer of glitzy, feature-laden washing machines would want something like this:Color: Size: Programmability: Reliability
The conceit that competing interests can come to easy accord on a common vocabulary totally ignores the power of organizing principles in a marketplace.
2.7 There's more than one way to describe something
"No, I'm not watching cartoons! It's cultural anthropology."
"This isn't smut, it's art."
"It's not a bald spot, it's a solar panel for a sex-machine."
Reasonable people can disagree forever on how to describe something. Arguably, your Self is the collection of associations and descriptors you ascribe to ideas. Requiring everyone to use the same vocabulary to describe their material denudes the cognitive landscape, enforces homogeneity in ideas.
And that's just not right.