This document defines XRD, a simple generic format for describing resources. Resource descriptor documents provide machine-readable information about resources (resource metadata) for the purpose of promoting interoperability, and assist in interacting with unknown resources that support known interfaces.

For example, a web page about an upcoming meeting can provide in its descriptor document the location of the meeting organizer's free/busy information to potentially negotiate a different time. The descriptor for a social network profile page can identify the location of the user's address book as well as accounts on other sites. A web service implementing an API protocol can advertise which of the protocol's optional components are supported.

The World Wide Web was originally built for human consumption, and although everything on it is machine-readable, this data is not machine-understandable. It is very hard to automate anything on the Web, and because of the volume of information the Web contains, it is not possible to manage it manually. The solution proposed here is to use metadata to describe the data contained on the Web. Metadata is "data about data" (for example, a library catalog is metadata, since it describes publications) or specifically in the context of this specification "data describing Web resources". The distinction between "data" and "metadata" is not an absolute one; it is a distinction created primarily by a particular application, and many times the same resource will be interpreted in both ways simultaneously.

Resource Description Framework (RDF) is a foundation for processing metadata; it provides interoperability between applications that exchange machine-understandable information on the Web. RDF emphasizes facilities to enable automated processing of Web resources. RDF can be used in a variety of application areas; for example: in resource discovery to provide better search engine capabilities, in cataloging for describing the content and content relationships available at a particular Web site, page, or digital library, by intelligent software agents to facilitate knowledge sharing and exchange, in content rating, in describing collections of pages that represent a single logical "document", for describing intellectual property rights of Web pages, and for expressing the privacy preferences of a user as well as the privacy policies of a Web site. RDF with digital signatures will be key to building the "Web of Trust" for electronic commerce, collaboration, and other applications.

I draw the comparison not to point out that XRD should be RDF, but to point out that regardless of the serialization, XRD, RDF, or N3, it's not the solution that's problematic, it's the problem statement to begin with. It's like asking the question, "How to do you build a ladder from here to the moon?" and then having a furious argument over what color to paint it.