Understanding Metadata

I found the NISO published brief Understanding Metadata to be super informative and helpful as I begin to wrap my brain around the topic of metadata. It was refreshing to see those real life “Metadata in action” scenarios since trying to understand it all in the abstract quickly gets muddled by so many acronyms, jargon, and technical vocab. I was also really interested to read the section about quality control, as I had been wondering about this issue. With so many different rules, standards, and collaborators who undertake metadata initiatives, quality control would seem like a very necessary aspect to address. Yet it also feels like the solution for dealing with QC is almost always just to point to a reference of best practices and user guidelines. I imagine that this issue is not going away anytime soon.

On a different but somewhat related note, the discussion of the two approaches to interoperability – “cross-system search” and “metadata harvesting” – pretty much went right over my head. Overall though this was a useful reading for me and I can see myself referring back to it as we get further into the class.


4 thoughts on “Understanding Metadata

  1. “Cross-system search” vs. “metadata harvesting”: Think of it as having to occasionally survey a group of people who all speak different languages. “Cross-system search” means that you make sure that they learn what a small group of English questions mean (the Z39.50 protocol, in the example), so that when you ask them one of those questions, you know you’re getting the right answer. “Metadata harvesting” asks them to report their answers to a small group of questions to a central blog or other site, so when you have a question, you look it up there instead of asking them directly. The site admins keep track of what the questions mean in various languages, but everyone sees the questions in their own language instead of learning it.
    So, the first method requires that everyone learn a central “search language,” and the second requires collecting all of the central “search answers”.


  2. I’m interested to know how metadata quality control factors in when using folksonomies and social tagging. It seems as if issues related to the completeness and consistency of metadata would pop up in these instances.


  3. OOOh that’s a great description of the two, Damen. There’s a lot of new terminology going on in this Metadata class, so it’s great to get a relatable comparison to ingrain in the brain. Neat!


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