My class mate over at Library Corner wrote a very interesting blog post titled “The Future is Ours”. In it she mentions how we are taking control of writing our own histories via blogs, twitter, and other social media. Instead of history being written by the victor history will be written by its subject. She also brings up a valid concern, the ability for people to keep up with all these personal histories. For instance if you have a hundred blogs from a hundred different view points of a certain event your average reader isn’t going to read a hundred blogs but one or two of the most well rated ones. Even as our ability to disseminate information increases via the internet information overload becomes a real problem.
Information overload is a concern that can only really be handled through organization. And the author of Library Corner makes a very good point that Metadata is one of the ways to organize this information. With proper metadata use and attaching a tweet to a popular hashtag it is possible for even a little known author to have their information seen by others.
Snow Byte and the Seven Formats is brilliant. I loved everything about this article. It was witty it was funny and it made me feel smart which is a nice perk. But really, the way the story grew around storage formats was downright fun. It introduces some terms like “obsolescence” while merely hinting at others such as the prince Dublin referencing the Dublin Core elements. It also demonstrates the benefits of a digital repository, letting Snow Byte get access to her files after the wicked Queen deleted them all.
I don’t know if the author actually intended the story to be read and understood by children or if that comment was more of a jest. I believe some of the information might be a little complex specifically Dublin’s discussion of the XML wrapper around the information, then again perhaps that is my own lack of familiarity showing through. In either case I think this story brings up many important points concerning information storage and treats them in a light, fun way. I could see this story being a jumping off point for discussions in class or just a really fun relaxing read trying to catch all the references made throughout.
I certainly fall into the first class of people described by this post. The opening discussion of Rights Metadata makes me want to pause and then maybe get ready for a headache, mostly because it sounds very complicated. I thought this article was a great in simplifying the necessary steps and processing of Rights Metadata.
I particularly liked how the author gave some examples of how useful Rights Metadata could be, for instance citing the benefits of knowing when the work was originally published for calculating copyright. Now it could just be me, but it also seemed as though the article didn’t really address the three main questions after the original response. As stated above, the article does show how useful Rights Metadata can be, but at the same time it lists multiple steps which will need to be populated by a librarian, although bolstered by selecting data entry from lists or the LCSH, and the ongoing nature of Rights Metadata could easily be exhausting. The ongoing nature of Rights Metadata sounds particularly draining on time and resources. Does anyone know if there are any tools which help to update this information?
I’ve worked a little bit with Dublin Core and felt I had a fair grasp of how it worked and the fifteen core elements that it contained. So I was a bit shocked when I looked at the Dublin Core Metadata Terms and saw a long list of information in tabulated format. At first I was more than a bit intimidated, but after taking a closer look it started making a bit more sense. Rather than listing the DC elements this document lists and defines all the terms associated with the metadata schema. It rather reminds me of the data dictionaries mentioned here and discussed in my last post.
However, rather than give a simple list of terms to define the metadata the “Dublin Core Metadata Terms” document fully describes the term. This document is indeed meta-metadata or metadata about metadata, it lists the term, gives a definition of what it is used for and further documents how it relates to the terms around it. I specifically appreciated that the links provided in each “entry” of the lists gave links which gave even more information such as whether the entry was the most up to date term used or if it had been supplanted by a newer one.
I really like Jody Perkins article on “Planning for Metadata.” Several of her comments were common sense and most revolved around knowing your collection and the needs of your users. Still it is nice to have a straight forward guide highlighting those very common sense items that can often be forgotten in planning a new project. However, I found the most interesting portion of the article to be about the “data dictionaries” as she terms them. Perkins stashes this little gem under the heading “Documenting Decisions” and while it certainly concerns documentation I found it an all around sensible. The data dictionaries could be termed meta-metadata and offer detailed information regarding each element of the schema. Filling out this information at the beginning of a project is a great way to keep good records by recording what has been decided and can also can highlight the strengths and weakness of the schema and the collection.
I really appreciated John’s post on emulation and digital preservation which can be found on his blog here. While I have briefly covered the concerns of outdated technology such as floppy discs and cassettes, I haven’t spent a lot of time on the issue. It was nice to get the perspective of someone who has clearly dealt with the emulation technology. While I still need to read some more background articles on emulation, I think that John’s article showed how a current technological practice can be used to help preserve and use niche technologies that might otherwise fall by the wayside.
It took me reading through a couple of the posted articles for me to wrap my head around microformats. I’ll be honest, I had to go to Wikipedia to make sure I had a firm grasp on what “microformat” actually meant. The terminology that finally made me get it was the discussion of syntax and semantics.
As I recall syntax is the grammar of schemas and semantics is the meaning. Just as I could never quite get my head around English grammar until I learned Latin sentence construction taking a step back often helps me put new formats into perspective. Microformats tell computers what various bits of XHTML or HTML code mean in a human context by giving them handles. This bit of information is a nominative, nominative means the subject of the sentence and so forth and so on. Once I could wrap my head around it I can understand why people are as interested in the possibilities as they are. Formats which help make computer data relevant and immediately understandable and useful to the human part of the equation is always exciting.
Richard Nurse’s blog post on “full library discovery” caught my attention on two levels. First was recognition. When discussing “full library discovery” my first thought was of the University of Alabama’s library search feature Scout. Scout, while it may not go as far as “full library discovery” as I am not sure if it pulls information from libguides and study aids, allows users to search across the catalog, journals, and even databases. I’ve used it a little myself, but I often find that what it gains in recall it lacks in precision making it less useful than other finding aides.
The other point that resonated with me is the question of how personalized should searches become. If users have to log-in to a system how much should search results be personalized and in what ways? The examples given come from an academic background and involve returning items used in previous years, by successful students, etc. I think I’ve seen and read too many science fiction stories to believe that guiding and controlling search results will lead to a best outcome. On the other hand having a best search system which highlights the most common or “useful” sources could save users a great deal of time. As mentioned in the comments of the post, I think the most important aspect of modified or personalized search results is making sure the user knows that the search has been edited and giving them the power to perform an unlimited search.
So how do these two revelations fit together? I think it comes to transparency in search results; what is highlighted and what is hidden. In a “full library search” there are often items that are not searched. I know there are several databases that I often use for my research that are not searchable via Scout. Likewise in a personalized search some sources will be excluded. Finding some sort of medium is vital and making sure that the user knows what is available both upfront and what might be hidden under another search layer is just good Librarianship.
I found the article “New Metadata Standards for Digital Resources: MODS and METS” by Rebecca Guenther and Sally McCallum to be really helpful. I felt like I’ve heard both terms bandied about with only a general understanding of what they are and how they work. The clear definitions and examples really helped me grasp both the complexities and the excitement that MODS and METS can provide to the library world.
MODS allow a solid level of description and definition for records and has a good crosswalks to and from MARC 21. While having such a rich format like MARC 21 has provided libraries with interoperability it can also make transitions very difficult as there is such a backlog of materials to convert. Since MODS are already providing a middle ground for definition between MARC 21 and simpler schemas such as Dublin Core I wonder if they might also provide a good crosswalk to future systems such as a FRBR system. In any case, it is exciting to see the world of digital resources supported by a strong metadata standards.
I’ll admit this article mostly left me stumped. It could be that I’m not completely certain of the terms being used, but I was mostly scratching my head. I could understand some of what, I think, were the main points. I thought the models based on the discovered questions had an organization that I could follow. It makes sense that before knowing what steps should be taken to persistently preserve an identifier, it must be known what needs a persistent identifier and so forth.
I even found it interesting that persistent identifiers could be applied not only to concrete documents, but to relationships and such abstractions as FRBR’s concepts of Work and Manifestation. But when the article came to trying to explain what “persist” meant I simply could follow the logic. I couldn’t tell if the article meant that a certain flyer, no longer available on the web, was still referenced by another document because it was mentioned or something more high-tech than that. I think I’ll try some of the background readings and come back to this article.
A policy checklist for enabling persistence of identifiers