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335Re: [govtrack] GovTrack Machine Tags

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  • Josh Tauberer
    Jun 18, 2007
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      Joe Germuska wrote:
      > Has there been any discussion of a machine tag convention for GovTrack
      > "nodes"? (see http://machinetags.org/ or
      > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machine_tag
      > <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machine_tag>) If not, is there any interest?

      Hi, Joe.

      I'm not a particularly big fan of tags. I see them as a very short term,
      unorganized solution to a much larger problem. As time goes on, the
      likelihood of cashes of tag names grows and grows (i.e. ambiguity of
      what the tag was meant to refer to), and as people try to push more
      information inside of a tag, we get stuck trying to parse the
      information back out, not knowing whether it was intended or not.

      My preferred approach is using semantic web methods, like URIs for
      identifying things and RDF for encoding structured data.

      > I could imagine a lot of value to the community of GovTrack users
      > tagging del.icio.us <http://del.icio.us> bookmarks or whatnot with tags
      > that could be linked back to specific bills.

      And so from that perspective, I'm not opposed to adding things like that
      to the site, but people would have to point me in the right direction
      for what to do.

      > govtrack:bill=h110-2206

      In the ideal world, I would use a globally unique identifier for each bill.

      > One could also suggest a format for "people" tags, like
      > govtrack:person=300038 (Dick Durbin) Not sure if there is any usable
      > unique ID that would make it more "shared" than govtrack.

      There are IDs assigned with the Library of Congress (see
      bioguide.congress.gov) which are neutral ground, although they have some
      issues like multiple identifiers assigned to the same individual ---
      after women change their name (at least in their historical data, which
      might just be unintentional).

      > For people like Dick Durbin, the likelihood of users selecting the same
      > tag intuitively is much higher than for tagging a bill.

      And the likelihood that other Dick Durbin's in the world get conflated
      with our congressional guy also is higher, which is why I don't like
      tags much.

      But like I said, I'm not deeply opposed to using them on the website.

      - Josh
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