[whatwg] embedding meta data for copy/paste usages - possible use case for RDF-in-HTML?

Hallvord R M Steen hallvors at gmail.com
Mon Jan 19 08:52:19 PST 2009

If this was discussed already, sorry. There has been so much RDF/meta
data discussion that I'm far from on top of it..

I'd like some way to add meta data to a page that could be integrated
with the UA's copy/paste commands.

For example, if I copy a sentence from Wikipedia and paste it in some
word processor, it would be great if the word processor offered to
automatically create a bibliographic entry.

If I copy the name of one of my Facebook "friends" and paste it into
my OS address book, it would be cool if the contact information was
imported automatically. Or maybe I pasted it in my webmail's address
book feature, and the same import operation happened..

If I select an E-mail in my webmail and copy it, it would be awesome
if my desktop mail client would just import the full E-mail with
complete headers and different parts if I just switch to the mail
client app and paste.

To make such use cases possible I suppose what we need is
a) some way to embed standardised interchangeable meta data in HTML
(so that users can copy from regular web pages)
b) some support in the UA for figuring out what meta data applies to a
selection and, say, place three alternative formats on the clipboard:
   1) text/plain
   2) text/html
   3) application/metasomething+xml
c) support in other applications for detecting the third format on the
clipboard, parsing and using it. For example, a web application might
use the HTML5 clipboard data API to detect the meta data, parse it
with the UA's XML parser, and figure out if it was data it could make
use of.
Most applications would use *both* the regular text (plain or HTML)
format and the meta data.

Would anyone use this?

I think that actually some of the functionality we would enable here
would be so compelling that users would request it. If, for example,
Wikipedia -> OpenOffice pasting created automatic bibliography entries
users would start asking why Encyclopedia Britannica -> Microsoft Word
did not. If Myspace.com let you copy a selected contact and paste in
some webmail or OS address book, Facebook users would start several
Facebook groups trying to get it "working" there.

Hallvord R. M. Steen

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