It's How the Data will be Used that Counts

Una Smith una at LANL.GOV
Tue Dec 4 13:58:11 CET 2001

Kevin Thiele wrote:

>> I seem to be in a minority of one here again, but I'll continue to argue my
>> case for a bit longer.

Go for it.  Defensiveness is a waste of everyone's time.

>> 2. If we can effectively embed fully parsable data in a natural-language
>> paragraph, why not?

Jim Croft wrote:

>becasue it creates mixed content (legal, but evil) where the data is
>parsable, but not structured.
>In fact, DELTA already does this  sort of thing by allowing liberal
>appending and prepending <freeform comments> all over the place. While
>this makes for quasireadable descriptions, authors often embed
>interesting character data in the comments making it unusable by other
>applications, even within the DELTA suite.  [...]

These <freeform comments> are natural-language paragraphs embedded
in otherwise fully parsable data, which is the opposite of Kevin's
case above.  And much easier to handle, I think.

I put interesting data in the comments for an extremely important
reason:  I know I don't have enough data to represent the probable
diversity in the taxon (the item), and I do not want to understate
the diversity.  Better to leave the character coded as unknown,
but record the data.  At some point in the future, the data can be
moved from the comments to where it belongs.

        Una Smith

Los Alamos National Laboratory, Mailstop K-710, Los Alamos, NM  87545

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