Tjebbe van Tijen (by way of (Pit Schultz)) on Wed, 26 Mar 1997 06:21:15 +0100 (MET)

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<nettime> The Dublin Metadata Workshop Report

>> from nettime-nl
[this is important for the difficulties of retrieving <nettime> stuff
via different full text engines, if you don't find it - it doesn't exist.
once it may be quite useful to start an article with some descriptive
lines containing keywords to give a broad idea about what follows.
another way is to just make the abstracts public and link to the
original article. just doing it and it will become usus? this is
part of a new thread on the questions of 'online publishing' .. -p]

The Dublin Metadata Workshop

The explosive growth of interest in the Internet and the World Wide Web in
the past five years has created a digital extension of the
academic research library for certain kinds of materials. Valuable
collections of texts, images and sounds from many scholarly
communities--collections that may even be the subject of state-of-the-art
discussions in these communities--now exist only in
electronic form and may be accessible from the Internet. Knowledge
regarding the whereabouts and status of this material is often
passed on by word of mouth among members of a given community. For
outsiders, however, much of this material is so difficult to
locate that it is effectively unavailable.

Why is it so difficult to find items of interest on the Internet or the
World Wide Web? A number of well-designed locator services, such
as Lycos [] are now available that automatically
index every resource available on the Web and maintain
up-to-date databases of locations. But it has not yet been demonstrated
that indexes contain sufficiently rich resource descriptions,
especially if the location databases are large and span many fields of
study. Moreover, a huge number of resources on the Internet have
no description at all beyond a filename which may or may not carry semantic
content. If these resources are to be discovered through a
systematic search, they must be described by someone familiar with their
intellectual content, preferably in a form appropriate for
inclusion in a database of pointers to resources. But current attempts to
describe electronic resources according to formal standards
(e.g, the TEI header [TEI] or MARC [MARC] cataloging) can accomodate only a
small subset of the most important resources.

Another solution, not yet implemented, that promises to mediate these
extremes involves the manual creation of a record that is more
informative than an index entry but is less complete than a formal
cataloging record. If only a small amount of human effort were
required to create the record, more objects could be described, especially
if the author of the resource could be encouraged to create
the description. And if the description followed an established standard,
only the creation of the record would require human
intervention; automated tools could discover the descriptions and collect
them into searchable databases.

What should this hypothetical description contain? Put in a convenient
jargon, the question is about metadata--literally, data about
data--or the contents of a surrogate record that characterize an object.
Thus the question can be recast more precisely: how can a
simple metadata record be defined that sufficiently describes a wide range
of electronic objects? Recognizing the need to answer this
and a multitude of associated questions, the Online Computer Library Center
(OCLC) and the National Center for Supercomputing
Applications (NCSA) sponsored the invitational Metadata Workshop on March
1-3, 1995, in Dublin, Ohio. Fifty-two librarians, archivists,
humanities scholars and geographers, as well as standards makers in the
Internet, Z39.50 and Standard Generalized Markup Language
(SGML) communities, met to identify the scope of the problem, to achieve
consensus on a list of metadata elements that would yield
simple descriptions of data in a wide range of subject areas, and to lay
the groundwork for achieving further progress in the definition
of metadata elements that describe electronic information. This paper
reports on the progress made at that workshop.

Tjebbe van Tijen
Imaginary Museum Projects, Amsterdam

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