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Three Magic Ingredients

The three ingredients for using metadata effectively on the internet.

1. Metadata Publishing

You need a standard, computer-readable format & grammar for expressing metadata assertions. "This page is good", "This page is about sheep", "This file is virus-free", etc...

Outfoxed Solution: Use RSS files to express relationships.

In Practice: Use a browser extension to give the user an easy method of generating and publishing these RSS files.

However, the mere existance of these files is not enough, and leaves us only a little better off than before. How do you choose which metadata files to use? When some file says that a program is virus-free, how do you know it's telling the truth? This brings us to the next ingredient:

2. Metadata Filtering via Social-Network

To select your sources of metadata information, use the features of a social network: only use (i.e. trust) people (or other sources) that you know, and people who know people you know, and so on.

Outfoxed Solution: Include the social network data in the metadata file. After all, assertions of trust are just another sort of metadata. So we have assertions saying things like "I trust/use/import the metadata in the file at location X."

In Practice: Use a browser extension to periodically spider through network of metadata files and build a database of trusted metadata information.

At this point you have a big fat database of trusted metadata, but it's of little use if you have to pro-actively search it. An automated solution is needed, which brings us to the next ingredient:

3. Metadata Application

To make the metadata useful, we need to query our database whenever we encounter data that might have some relevent metadata. Here are the obvious places:

  • Browsing the web: every page that is viewed.
  • Internet search: highly rated pages should be higher in search results.
  • File downloading: files which match a published fingerprint can be certified virus-free.

And there are many more!