2 responses to “Google and Bad Metadata

  1. Karen Coyle

    Could you elaborate on what you mean by “qualitative metadata”?

    • jeneustis

      Hi Karen,

      When speaking at metadata, I often hear that more is better. Sometimes, it is just stated that any metadata no matter what it is is or will be important one day. To a certain extent, I agree that there could be metadata that could be important in the future in terms of how new technologies can manipulate that data. To another extent, I disagree. In terms of research, not all metadata is important. So, when I brought up qualitative metadata, I was really thinking of an academic scholar trying to do research from digitized or born digital materials. In this case, every single bit of metadata would not be important. However, I would be interested in how this material was created, its history, and if other and/or different editions of it exists. In this sense, it would be necessary to carefully choose the type of metadata used for that material. This means a lot of work in the back end that might involve research in terms of trying to place the material in its context. I see this in particular with digitized images that have such descriptions as people walking in the snow. This is not really helpful. However, there is always the problem of not knowing this context which is one of the reasons why the Library of Congress or Plymouth State University has posted pictures either on Flickr or Scriblio in order to get more information from anyone who might be familiar with that image. There is also a problem of time and staff constraints where doing research on a particular material is just not possible; therefore, the record reflects this lack of time and staff.

      I think it would really be worth looking into what qualitative metadata means more specifically. I think in a sense it requires that our metadata at least have a minimum of metadata that helps people place that material as well understand what it is about. I think it also means looking into the content standards or what is used as metadata in records. There seem to be many inconsistencies and digital collections are hard to search. Take for example the Internet Archive. I love this project but it is often difficult to search for a specific material. Sometimes, it is also difficult to distinguish the difference between a long list of seemingly similar materials. In a way, it is up to the metadata to help the user sort out these difficulties and see how materials differ or are similar.

      But it would be great to get feedback.

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