I thoroughly enjoyed reading Anne Gilliland’s article “Setting the Stage.” The overall tone of the article was extremely accessible and thought-provoking while discussing considerations regarding metadata. One salient point was her discussion about the limited success that institutions such as libraries, archives, and museums have in integrating their materials into one useable, searchable system. Granted, issues of copyright and intellectual property laws can make interoperability difficult. However, if institutions can get over the “my way or the highway” mentality in their approaches towards the creation and retrieval of metadata, it would benefit both users and other information professionals to gain access to various collections. Gilliland states, “[the] selection of an inappropriate schema…serves neither the collection materials themselves nor the users who wish to find, understand, and use those materials.”
Gilliland also addresses the notion of privilege in creating metadata. She provides the example of archival finding aids, which oftentimes do not inherently make sense to any person other than the creator or someone taught how to read them. This can be remedied with user-generated metadata, which can bring to light differences in vocabulary ways in which people retrieve and use data. One of the coolest websites I’ve come across for community knowledge creation and organization is this website.
As a whole, Gilliland’s article reminds us that we should think of metadata as a fluid concept that can refer to many different things. Although this is an important concept, I appreciated and found very helpful her tables with discrete examples of the different types, attributes, and characteristics of metadata.
N.B. It is also important to remember metadata can be embedded in digital files…