Simon Willison’s Weblog


Sunday, 28th July 2002

XHTML ODP attribution

The ODP require you to display an attribution on any page that reuses ODP data. The recommended attribution fails to validate as XHTML, so I created an XHTML compliant alternative which looks visually identical (at least in standards compliant browsers) but uses <div>s with CSS styles. ODP editor in chief rdkeating25 has informally approved my alternative version on the ODP editor forums so I’m ready to go—at least as soon as I finish writing a script to parse data from their pages ;)

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Another free Python book

How to Think Like a Computer Scientist: Learning with Python is a new Python text book covered by the GNU Free Documentation License and available on the web. The thread discussing it on Slashdot gives mixed reviews, with other recommended free alternatives including Mark Pilgrim’s Dive Into Python and Thinking in Python by Bruce Eckel.

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Yet another interesting take on XML metadata representations: FacetMaps. A facet map (as I understand it) is a way of combining facets with hierarchies, best explained by the excellent interactive three minute concept intro on the site. One of the main contrasts to XFML is that in a Facet Map Facets, rather than Topics, are the principle categorisation element. A resource in a Facet Map is linked directly to one or more facets, rather than going through a topic. The XML format is pretty simple (a lot simpler than XTM and XFML) so I might have a go at a PHP implementation at some point.

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The mind of God

Red Herring: Dinner with the mind behind the mind of God, an informal interview with Sergey Brin, cofounder of Google. The “mind of God” reference stems from this quote:

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Facets understood

And suddenly I understand faceted metadata. Sometimes all you need for that final moment of insight is a good example, and Peter Van Djick’s Columbia Guide Site Map is just what I needed. A facet is simply a “flat”, mutually exclusive (at least as far as the XFML specification is concerned) way of categorising a topic—it can be described as a bottom-up method of categorisation rather than the more common hierarchical top-down approach (as seen on the ODP) which seeks to assign all topics as sub-topics of something else. Peter writes in XFML Background and Concepts that Faceted taxonomies are generally more powerful for websites than classic hierarchical taxonomies—this seems to make a great deal of sense, and it will be interesting to see this demonstrated by XFML in the near future.

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