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METS  May 2009

METS May 2009

Subject:

Greetings

From:

Brett Zamir <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 12 May 2009 16:13:19 +0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Hi everyone,

I'm new to the list and METS, so apologies if I'm not up to speed enough 
in the understanding reflected in my comments...

I just gave the PDF manual a once through, and intend to submit some 
errata, etc. when I get a chance. Overall, METS appears to be a quite 
versatile and well extensible format to work with, so thank you for all 
your work on it! I'm looking forward to working with it more.

I believe that METS has great potential beyond what I can surmise were 
its original intentions. Here are a few ideas for wider use on the web 
(please correct me if these have already been covered or anticipated, 
but I didn't see any discussion of them):

1) Linkbases per XLink for storing associations of links which might be 
used, and especially if used by webcrawlers like Google, to even show 
suggested links from (or to) a page you are viewing.

2) Sitemaps. While there is an effort to make a standard hierarchical 
sitemap language, http://www.standard-navigation.org/ , the only 
big-company-supported standard is not even hierarchical. I'm not sure 
how widely the former has caught on; perhaps METS could adapt any 
missing features from this language, if the standard-navigation dialect 
offers something METS does not. This possibility might be combined with 
#1, in that, with <smLink/>/XLink, a sitemap need not be restricted to 
one's own site. :)  Scripting tools (or even crawling applications) 
could, in some cases, automate the generation of such sitemaps.

3) Gopher 2.0; While the predecessor to the web, Gopher, seems basically 
dead, if more powerful user interfaces such as column browsers were to 
be applied to it, and with browsers supporting XML, I believe specific 
applications (along the lines of http://dir.yahoo.com or linked 
outlines, genealogies, etc.), would make such a clean navigation tool 
quite useful today. I'm thinking METS could also work well for such an 
origin of links leading to places within the same site or to external 
sites, as did/does Gopher.

This suggestion is not much different than #1 or #2 (and could even work 
the same), but it highlights the fact that these files could be a main 
point of entry. This could be triggered by a custom protocol, as Firefox 
allows its extensions to create--e.g., gopher2:mysite.example.com could 
look for an XML file at myseite.example.com and go into "Gopher-mode", 
rather than only being accessible by visiting, in a standard fashion, a 
webpage which say embedded the information in the <head/> of an HTML 
document for optional use.  I recently made a blog post about how HTML 
alone might be used for this purpose 
(http://brettz9.blogspot.com/2009/05/gopher-20.html ), even without 
XHTML and namespaces, but I think METS would of course be richer (though 
one could even use METS terminology and devices within a pure HTML 
document if not XHTML).

4) Manifest files for deliverable packages of web files which can be 
automatically linked to, processed, decompressed if necessary, and 
subsequently reassembled and referenced for offline viewing (or which 
can just be viewed live each time), with the possibility of different 
bookmarkable/shareable links at different sites leading to different 
views of this same data, whether SQL or XML (e.g., different links could 
open up different ranges of pages/paragraphs, or indicate different 
styling of such text or database tables which a web author might not 
have allowed or anticipated) (with URNs even, or another custom 
protocol), without requiring redundant downloads. This should be 
increasingly doable given how browsers like Firefox and others are 
working to support a standard for local SQL storage (see 
http://www.w3.org/TR/offline-webapps/ ). I really think that there needs 
to be a richer way to open up data (such as mash-ups are doing) which 
doesn't depend on website authors/owners, and I think METS could serve 
as a nice basis for this. (I'll talk more about this in my next email, 
as I've started work on a Firefox extension to do this and would love 
feedback, especially on my use or abuse of METS markup.)

I also imagine some of the above could, with some adjustments, really 
put the existing METS files out there to wider use which, from what I 
can tell, have to date mostly been used either for off-web or indirect 
uses (such as server-side conversion), and not for direct consumption in 
their entirety by browsers? Thoughts?

thanks and best wishes,
Brett

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