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Programming Social Applications by Jonathan LeBlanc

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The Rise and Fall of Metadata

When metadata programming was in its infancy over a decade ago, it had a noble goal—to bring cohesion to the Web so that someone could extract rich information about a website easily and in a standardized way. This lofty goal never really made it to fruition, due in large part to inadequate adoption of its practices and the lack of fully standardized implementations. Simply put, sites implementing rich data tags did so for their own goals, not to enrich the Web as a whole.

Since the Open Graph protocol has come on the scene, there’s been a resurgence in the usefulness of site metatagging, chiefly due to the Facebook Like button.

Note

The Facebook Like button is a means by which third-party sites allow a user to “like” their page, which sends a message back through to the user’s Facebook activity stream. The Open Graph protocol is the backbone of this technology in that it allows Facebook to extract title, description, media data, and more from the third-party site.

When a third-party site integrates the Facebook Like button, it needs to also integrate OpenLike protocol metatagging for Facebook to extract the most information about its page. Because application developers want to tap into Facebook’s increasingly large audience, adoption rates of these metaprogramming standards have increased. The two elements metaprogramming lacked in its unsuccessful infancy were purpose and consistency, both of which are delivered by the Facebook Like button.

Even though ...

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