oss4lib: An Interview with Paul Everitt and Ken Manheimer of Digital Creations, publishers of Zope Page 6

oss4lib: Implicit in this is knowing that in a given community a small subset of folks will self-select into a group of detail-obsessives working to help the others find and manage context-relevant information. In libraries, it's the catalogers; in the general public it's folks adding to IMDB or moderating MusicBrainz; in the hacker community, it's folks writing How-Tos, guiding free software projects, moderating slashdot, and so on.

Manheimer: Truly, the power of our species is collaboration. That's why computer communications are making so many fundamental waves - they enable quantum leaps in collaboration scale, immediacy, and intricacy. We're all only gradually learning to harness that potential. I think the librarian sensibilities are key because they're about systematizing the advancements so they scale...

oss4lib: A wiki "feature" that made a few librarian colleagues cringe was that its mutable, dynamic nature was the only possible state. It was agreed by all that a great function would be to enable offloading a static snapshot of a wiki as a set of properly hyperlinked html pages. Is it possible now to preserve a Wiki this way?

Everitt: Sure, if that's what people want. wget will easily snarf down a copy of a site.

But that's only one solution to the problem. A better solution is a better system, one in which access control is possible and access to previous versions (history) is there.

Manheimer: RegulatingYourPages, mentioned above, details this.

oss4lib: It sounds like the future of Wiki overlaps in many ways with your plans for robust metadata support.

Everitt: As hinted above, we already have RFC822-style headers in Wiki. For instance, if you edit a Wiki page from an FTP client like Emacs/ange-ftp, you'll see the Wiki seatbelt inserted at the top of the page.

More important, the CMF will converge with our Wiki efforts. A Wiki page will have all the web-based and text-based authoring benefits and metadata of a CMF document. And hopefully, a CMF document will have all the sublime interconnecting that you see in Wiki.

oss4lib: The no-longer-active connection with Fourthought and 4Suite was very promising in this area; while we can always build tools that use 4Suite's 4RDF in conjunction with Zope, a few of us were hoping for deeper integration. What's the outlook for general support for RDF in Zope?

Everitt: Hmm, good question. We have an ongoing dialog with Rael Dornfest from O'Reilly. I'd be interested as well in some of your thoughts on the subject.

oss4lib: Btw, we found some old postings from you at your old .mil address, in the context of GILS. So it's clear that you've been thinking about metadata on the web for a long time.

[Everitt: Wow, you librarians have a long memory. :^) I'm embarassed to think what I said back then. Well, you know, I was younger then, it was a crazy time, I didn't know it was a felony...oh, wrong embarassment. :^)]

What's your assessment, in early 2001, of how much we've progressed overall in the metadata area? What are the most important priorities, and is there a holy grail?

Everitt: I don't think we've made an inch of progress in the mainstream, meaning outside of the library science displine of the already converted.

Nearly everyone I meet (besides programmers) uses Word. They use Word even when they shouldn't. But almost none of them know that File->Properties exists.

This article was originally published on Mar 16, 2001

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