[Online Magazine] Metadata Articles

Janie L. Wilkins (wilkins@princeton.lib.nj.us)
Mon, 08 Mar 1999 15:16:38 -0500

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The January/February 1999 issue of "Online: The Leading Magazine for Information Professionals"  just made its way in to my in-basket (someone else on the routing list obviously took their sweet time in reading it *grrrr*).  Anyhow, There is a suite of articles in this issue that discuss metadata.

Metadata: Cataloging by Any Other Name ...

Metadata Projects and Standards

Metadata for a Corporate Intranet
not available online

The article on Metadata Projects and Standards states:

A major difference between the library-proposed standards and the others is in the expectation of who applies the
metadata to each work. Since it is impossible for all electronic files to be cataloged professionally, the focus outside the
library community has been on enabling the creators of electronic resources to create the metadata fields for inclusion in
the record for an object. Web authors, who probably do not even know what an "index" is (or who think it's something
computers do by creating an inverted file of all the words in a record), are very interested in metadata as a vehicle for
improving their ranking by a Web search engine. They therefore seek suggestions and guidance for including
subject-oriented metadata in their records. Because of this widespread interest, metadata standards groups have been
established. There are many--perhaps too many--formal initiatives underway.

How can there be too many attempts to formalize and standardize metadata? It's very simple. Even though there are
disparate sets of needs (the metadata required for an environmental inventory, an image of a museum object, and a violent
video, for example), there is still a high degree of overlap. Objects in a collection all have creators. Generally, they have
titles, they have dates of creation and modification, and so on. If like information is treated alike, the information is more
accessible. The metadata projects all acknowledge that we really need to settle on one name for the creator of an object,
be it "author," "artist," or "creator."

As more and more information becomes available electronically, the problem of finding it becomes more acute. This need
has driven people to meet and talk earnestly all over the world. It's hard to determine just how many meetings and
workshops have been or are being held on metadata,
The three articles seem to be geared towards someone who has little or no knowledge about the topic of metadata and would be very useful reading for an undergraduate computer science class being introduced to this topic.  Beyond that, though, when the three articles are taken as a whole they offer a good summary of the state of metadata and what is being done and by whom.  As well, one article offers a fairly useful  list of metadata resource on the web: