Re: The future of meta-indices/libraries? (John Franks)
Date: Wed, 16 Mar 1994 16:31:10 --100
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From: (John Franks)
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Subject: Re: The future of meta-indices/libraries?
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We may be approaching a consensus, at least among the people 
participating in this discussion.  

I think we might be able to agree on the following:

1.  We use the ALIWEB template format with the addition
    of a creation date and an optional expiration date.
    (I know the date will be in the HTTP header -- it should
    be in the document too.)

2.  The template should be accessed with the URL  

3.  It is up to the maintainer how to create the template (by hand
    or automatically).

Now here are some personal thoughts on which there will likely be

1.  Hand made versus Machine made:

    Hand made templates are better (in general) than machine made
    templates, but the percentage of sites willing or able to produce
    them is very small. (About 1% of current sites participate in
    ALIWEB.  This is what we should expect in general.)  Also as Peter
    Deutsch points out, enthusiasm for making these templates declines
    exponentially with time so hand made ones we usually not be up to
    For this reason it is vitally important that default automatic support for
    template generation be built into servers. It is not even sufficient
    to have an external script or program to create the template.  It
    must be done automatically by default.  On this point we have yet
    to hear from the two most important players, NCSA and CERN.  Unless
    the creators of these two servers buy into this proposal we are
    probably wasting our time.  The reality is that while our discussion
    may be valuable, standards are set by NCSA and CERN.

2.  HTML+ Meta information

    I think that, by all means, authors should be encouraged to put
    meta information into their html documents.  And automatic
    template creators should be designed to incorporate this
    information if it exists.  But I don't think that a robot doing a
    HEAD request for all the documents on a server is the correct way
    to do indexing.  I particular I don't know how the robot would
    know the URLs of documents on the server all it only used the HEAD

John Franks 	Dept of Math. Northwestern University