Value of metadata

Harold Jarche asks Is metadata dead?

Here's a question for any experts on learning object repositories, metadata, cataloguing, etc. Given the latest conversations around tagging, folksonomies and Google's various search tools; is it still necessary to create a definite metadata structure for large web databases? Would it be better to focus on search? Can personal tagging address everyone's needs? Should you address both? What would you do if you had to build a learning portal tomorrow? Yes, I'm asking for free advice ;-)

There have been a couple responses in his comments with Anol Bhattacharya following with his own Is metadata dead?

The answer to this question is a definite "it depends."  The concept of metadata is not dead.  The way we think about it may be - particularly in light of Harold's primary question about the gobs of metadata that are required in stuff management systems (CMS, wCMS, DMS, LCMS...).  I'd be willing to see that drop out of sight, as the only thing this kind of metadata does is get in the way of people who are trying to save that stuff for others.

Recall, however, that we need all sorts of metadata to inform us as to what we have found: title, date, authors, etc.  Search engines of the world need this information as well.  If you've got a web page, search engines also look at the links to and from that page as additional information about the page (metadata). 

In an ideal world, the tools by which this information is published out to the world should be smart enough to capture that metadata during the process of creating it.  The tools need to be aware of the context in which the author is operating.  They need to be aware of who the author is (what roles she plays).  At the same time, we need to recognize that consumers will eventually be operating in different contexts than the original author, so the tools also need to have some mechanism for bridging from one set of references to another.  Tagging has been promoted as a good way to do this.  Maybe there are others.  Before the tagging phenomenon took off, people wrote about tools that could automatically discern context to assist in a search.

1 Comment(s)

Thanks Jack, I appreciate your insight. I'm going to be living this question soon. As a consultant, "it depends" was my first response ;-)

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This entry was published on November 28, 2005 4:44 PM and has 1 comment(s).

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