Organizing notes with XML

Discussion in 'XML' started by Ian Rastall, Apr 8, 2004.

  1. Ian Rastall

    Ian Rastall Guest

    I've been Googling for a couple days on this, without hitting the
    mark, and I'm wondering if anyone can help. I'm interested in
    building a personal knowledge base with XML (although "knowledge
    base" may not be the right term). For example, if I'm at a site
    about tea, and I want to briefly note down the history of Russian
    Caravan tea, and then cross-reference it with other notes, how
    would I go about doing that? I've been reading about mind mapping,
    on the one hand, and topic mapping/RDF/OWL on the other. It looks
    as if neither approach has the right granularity. The first seems
    to connect concepts, and the second seems to connect documents.
    I'm thinking more along the lines of snippets of a couple
    paragraphs ... to write down the information, describe it, and
    link it to related information.

    Are there any XML-based markup languages designed for this sort of
    thing?

    Ian
    --
    http://www.aspipes.org/
    http://www.bookstacks.org/
    http://www.learnsomethingnew.us/
     
    Ian Rastall, Apr 8, 2004
    #1
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  2. Ian Rastall

    Stefan Ram Guest

    Ian Rastall <> writes:
    >I've been reading about mind mapping, on the one hand, and
    >topic mapping/RDF/OWL on the other. It looks as if neither
    >approach has the right granularity. The first seems to connect
    >concepts, and the second seems to connect documents. I'm
    >thinking more along the lines of snippets of a couple
    >paragraphs ... to write down the information, describe it, and
    >link it to related information.


    You might create a note - or a "snippet" - and assign a URI to
    it. The you can use RDF to make all sorts of assertions about
    it, connecting it to either concepts or other documents.

    Is there anything you are still missing with such an approach?

    >Are there any XML-based markup languages designed for this sort
    >of thing?


    XHTML might be used to write the snippets and the
    meta-elements and link-elements in the head-element of an
    XHTML document can contain all sorts of information about how
    this document is related to concepts and other documents.

    Is there anything you need and can't implement in this way?
     
    Stefan Ram, Apr 8, 2004
    #2
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  3. Ian Rastall

    Ian Rastall Guest

    On 8 Apr 2004 02:37:34 GMT, -berlin.de (Stefan Ram)
    wrote:

    > You might create a note - or a "snippet" - and assign a URI to
    > it. The you can use RDF to make all sorts of assertions about
    > it, connecting it to either concepts or other documents.
    >
    > Is there anything you are still missing with such an approach?


    I'll keep that approach in mind, as I may go that route.

    > XHTML might be used to write the snippets and the
    > meta-elements and link-elements in the head-element of an
    > XHTML document can contain all sorts of information about how
    > this document is related to concepts and other documents.
    >
    > Is there anything you need and can't implement in this way?


    An entire document is too much code for a note. I may be looking
    at a database, which I wanted to avoid, as I don't know the first
    thing about them. (Granted, I don't know much about XML. :))
    There is software out there that does this sort of thing, but I
    like the idea of being able to put this web of notes on the WWW.
    To put each note on a separate page would be wasteful. I suppose a
    database *is* what I'm thinking of. <sigh>

    Ian
    --
    http://www.aspipes.org/
    http://www.bookstacks.org/
    http://www.learnsomethingnew.us/
     
    Ian Rastall, Apr 8, 2004
    #3
  4. Ian Rastall

    Ian Rastall Guest

    On Wed, 07 Apr 2004 21:18:13 -0400, Ian Rastall
    <> wrote:

    >I'm thinking more along the lines of snippets of a couple
    >paragraphs ... to write down the information, describe it, and
    >link it to related information.
    >
    >Are there any XML-based markup languages designed for this sort of
    >thing?


    I'm sorry for being vague. From what I understand of the semantic
    web concept, it's a way of linking web pages together by way of
    their concepts, as well as chunks of information inside those
    pages. What I'm wondering is, what if *all you have* are chunks of
    information? What if you want to organize them according to some
    grand taxonomy, like the Dewey Decimal system. I'm talking about a
    markup language for note-taking that catalogues knowledge in a
    well-defined system. I'm just not sure how to do it, and since I'm
    just starting out with XML, I don't know what route to take in my
    learning to accomplish this goal. Not to mention that, as I learn,
    I want to be able to catalogue that process, so even if I don't
    know exactly how to mark up those chunks of information, I should
    at least have an idea of the general system I'll be using.

    I was hoping there was already a system like that in place, since
    it doesn't seem like an original idea. The problem with Google is
    I don't know what terms to search under. "Knowledge mapping",
    "mind mapping", "information systems", "conceptual mapping", and
    "knowledge base" all turn up similar systems, but nothing exactly
    like what I'm looking for. If anyone has any ideas on the subject,
    I'd be very grateful.

    Ian
    --
    http://www.aspipes.org/
    http://www.bookstacks.org/
    http://www.learnsomethingnew.us/
     
    Ian Rastall, Apr 8, 2004
    #4
  5. Ian Rastall

    Stefan Ram Guest

    Ian Rastall <> writes:
    >I'm talking about a markup language for note-taking that
    >catalogues knowledge in a well-defined system. (...) If anyone
    >has any ideas on the subject, I'd be very grateful.


    It is too early to say much about my system, i.e., the
    documentation is not yet finished, so I can neither offer
    links to the documentation (because it's not yet finished),
    nor write all about it here (because that would take too
    long.)

    But I can offer a partially working example.

    Assume, I observed a resource offering a real-time schedule
    for the suburban public traffic system in Berlin and I want to
    make a note about it, so that I can find it later.

    I am linking it to a description "Echtzeit-Fahrplan der BVG",
    i.e., "real-time schedule of the BVG ('BVG' is the name of a
    transportation service provider)", I am linking it to its URI,
    and I am linking it to the notion "schedule for berlin".

    Then I have a tool to publish this on the web, which happens
    to be already working, so you can see the output here:

    http://purl.net/stefan_ram/garnoo/n!steralog!resource!BVG'20in'20Echtzeit

    (This system is experimental and therefore the URI is
    temporary and might not work in several weeks from now.)

    How do I find that note again, when I need it later?

    I might have forgotten the name of the service, so I start
    at the concept "Berlin":

    http://purl.net/stefan_ram/garnoo/n!steralog!notion!Berlin

    There I find an arrow to a notion "Fahrplan für Berlin"
    ("schedule for Berlin"), which "is-for-location" Berlin, i.e.,
    something that is localized for the location Berlin.

    (Actually its funny how Englisch and German is mixed on these
    pages: local notions are given in the local language.)

    I might now go to that notion "traffic schedule for Berlin":

    http://purl.net/stefan_ram/garnoo/n!steralog!notion!Fahrplan'20f'fcr'20Berlin

    And there I find the resource "BVG in Echtzeit", which happens
    to be ("isa") such a schedule.

    I might as well have started at the concept of "traffic
    schedule"

    http://purl.net/stefan_ram/garnoo/n!steralog!notion!Fahrplan

    to find the real-time public transportation time schedule for
    Berlin.

    This was more of a "bookmark" than a "note", but because
    arbitrary text can be contained, it might have been a note
    about anything else, like an idea or a book:

    http://purl.net/stefan_ram/garnoo/n!steralog!resource!Accelerated'20C'2b'2b

    Now, one might ask, how such a note is entered into that
    system? I am using a plain text editor with a special language
    and that language - unfortunately - is a part of the system,
    which is not yet documented and also in a preliminary status
    and still subject to change. So I can not say much about it
    here - a year later from now on, I might be able to link to a
    web page describing it in more detail.

    The information system given above also contains only some
    test data - so while one is free to browse it, not much can be
    found there. Most of the information contained are charters
    for certain german language newsgroups. A year later from now
    on possibly more information can be found there and it might
    be possible to find information about it (when URIs have
    changed) by its name "Garnoo".

    And, as a universal information system, Garnoo is designed to
    be/include its own documentation/description: A part of this
    which already is working: You can activate links on one of the
    above Garnoo page to find a small description of a notion,
    e.g., activate the link "outset" to find a short description
    of the meaning of "outset" in Garnoo.

    OK, a minor part already /is/ documented, it is the language
    "Garpagal" used as an intermediate language to produce the
    above web pages from the data base. That documentation is
    here:

    http://www.purl.org/stefan_ram/pub/garpagal

    NB: Garpagal is an /output/ language of the system, not an
    input language. I.e., it is not the language used to enter
    information into the database.

    And, I am using a modified version of XML called "Unotal" as a
    syntactical framework, which is also not yet documented
    properly. In a few words: An element in Unotal has the form

    <&type name=value body>

    instead of the XML-form

    <type name=value>body</type>

    Here are some notes about Unotal:

    http://www.purl.org/stefan_ram/pub/unotal_en
     
    Stefan Ram, Apr 8, 2004
    #5
  6. Ian Rastall

    Stefan Ram Guest

    Ian Rastall <> writes:
    >> XHTML might be used to write the snippets and the
    >> meta-elements and link-elements in the head-element of an

    >An entire document is too much code for a note.


    An XHTML-document might look like this "<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC
    "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.1//EN"
    "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml11/DTD/xhtml11.dtd"> <html
    xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en"
    ><head><title></title></head><body><p></p></body></html>"


    So it needs at least about 200 characters, which is not that
    much.

    For storage purposes, it might be stored abbreviated as
    "<html><head><title></title></head><body></body></html>", the
    doctype declaration and other parts can be inserted upon
    delivery of the document to an external client. This is about
    one line overhead per document (or "note").

    XHTML documents might be stored within a database. So the
    choice of XHTML as a language does not decide on the storage
    system (filesystem or database). Mutiple XML documents might
    even be stored within a single file, but this makes it harder
    to refer to one of them. For the purpose of being refered
    to, an XHTML document should have its own URI.

    >There is software out there that does this sort of thing, but I
    >like the idea of being able to put this web of notes on the WWW.
    >To put each note on a separate page would be wasteful.


    What is wasted this way?

    Putting multiple notes in a single document makes sense when
    they share properties - which then can be given as meta- and
    link-elements in the head element. Thus, an XHTML document
    might be dedicated to a topic and collect notes about that
    topic.
     
    Stefan Ram, Apr 8, 2004
    #6
  7. Ian Rastall

    Ian Rastall Guest

    On 8 Apr 2004 14:59:12 GMT, -berlin.de (Stefan Ram)
    wrote:

    > It is too early to say much about my system, i.e., the documentation
    > is not yet finished [...] But I can offer a partially working example.


    Thanks, Stefan. That's the kind of thing I'm thinking of, so I'll
    definitely keep up on its progress.

    As I mentioned, my main concern right now is how to represent a
    chunk, rather than a document ... since browsers are designed for
    documents. There are no "concept browsers", AFAIK (and I wouldn't
    even know what one looked like.) So to view the knowledge base
    with a browser, the notes would have to be grouped together on
    pages, or the page would have to be dynamic and call up entries
    from a database. I'm thinking of this as one way of teaching
    people online ... like teaching HTML, where it's possible at any
    time to veer off in a different direction, say to go from
    "paragraph tags" to "CSS text formatting" to "history of CSS" ...
    or to go from HTML to networking to hardware ... to learn, IOW, in
    whatever fashion suits the mind of the learner, rather than having
    the path laid out for them. As far as what I myself could do to
    further this idea, all I could really do is codify all the chunks
    of knowledge that I pick up along the way. If I could find a
    simple way to do it, perhaps with PHP or Perl, then it would be as
    simple as taking regular notes, but they would be automatically
    organized in such a way that they become re-usable ... not just
    for me, but for anyone.

    Anyway, after talking a bit on here about it, I think the idea is
    clearer now. Thanks for your thoughts on the matter.

    Ian
    --
    http://www.aspipes.org/
    http://www.bookstacks.org/
    http://www.learnsomethingnew.us/
     
    Ian Rastall, Apr 8, 2004
    #7
  8. Ian Rastall

    Ian Rastall Guest

    Ian Rastall, Apr 8, 2004
    #8
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