Hello My LS560 Metadata friends!
It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” - Bilbo Baggins
I just wanted to write this one this one last post before the end of our class. I’m glad the work’s over, but I’m said to see my classmates go. I know most of you tricksy folk are graduating. I’ve enjoyed meeting every one of you and I wish you all the best of luck, success and happiness. I also wanted to send a shoutout to my fellow Regional 2.0 classmate Ellen, who I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for the last two years. She’s graduating as well, and I will miss her. Lastly I want to thank Dr. McCall for his humor, patience and kindness. His enthusiasm made the class more interesting than it should have been. =)
So I have two classes left, there are only three more classmates in my cohort. I’m looking forward to the day we all graduate.
I will leave you this. Faire thee well, and safe travels…
To Live Is To Fly – Cowboy Junkies
Way back when I wrote that cataloging is like eating green peas . By that I meant that cataloging is a dry, complicated subject that can be both frustrating and sleep-inducing. I view it that way, but of course for many people (I’m assuming library professionals) I’m sure they find it exciting, challenging and utterly fascinating. I could certainly ascertain that in reading the articles in which the authors went on and on like geeks at Dragoncon. Of course, our own Dr. Mac is the same way, as it should be; a certain enthusiasm makes the metadata medicine go down.
So the question is once again, if I hate this so much why do I take these classes? My reason is because it’s fundamental library science. I would argue that cataloging and its new sibling managing electronic metadata are a cornerstone along with reference services. I want to be a librarian. So I want to be well versed in the fundamental skills of librarianship. I wish I had some more time (only two more classes left) I would subject myself to even more cruel cataloging pain.
Pai Mei cataloging master
The learning is hard, often frustrating, sometimes miserable, but the results are rewarding. I sort of like indexing. It’s concrete-operational work, and it’s a great feeling of satisfaction to look at the results of one’s efforts.
I finished my indexing project yesterday. I know this is beginning to sound like a broken record, but yes I did learn a lot. Left side data entry of course, and the Dublin Core; I also learned a little about librarianship. It’s about what we do about information and not the information itself. I may not like football, but that was the assignment. It could have been worse; it could have been about cheerleaders (no offense cheerleaders). I did however much to my surprise enjoy the challenge of discovering the “aboutness” of each image. Fortunately (or unfortunately- it all depends), my family was stationed in Alabama for two tours and my dad is a football fanatic. So I do know football . Knowing football meant I could make an educated guess about what was happening by matching the jersey numbers with players and positions. However in the future, I may not know the subject which would mean using other solutions to provide good descriptions. That said, another valuable lesson is that descriptions can be fuzzy, but they are also mutable and easily altered or corrected
As stated before last night was my turn to do a presentation on the Categories for the Description of Works of Art. As also stated I was a bit nervous because a) I’m not knowledgeable with the subject which also means I’m not comfortable presenting and b) I hate doing presentations. Both variables can make for a bad night; if only one is present, things usually go without a hitch. I really do hate doing presentations, but it’s a large part of my current career and I also assume for my future career as librarian. So I just grit my teeth and do them.
It was no surprise then that Murphy (patron saint of the US Army and the Infantry branch in particular) and his wonderful law made a visit last night. To my terror, as soon as I started talking my voice left me and it was replaced with the creaking voice of an aged orc. I had this internal dialogue: “You’re dying here – go run to the kitchen and guzzle down some water” – “No, the clock is ticking! I’m gonna ride this puppy into the ground”. Now it would have been super cool if I sounded like Batman. That would have certainly given my presentation much more gravitas. But that wasn’t the case…sigh
How do I know about right-side data entry? Because I'm the Batman!
That said, I did work hard at my subject and regardless of my presentation, I can truthfully say I learned a lot. Not just about my schema, but schemas in general, and left and right-side data entry. It reinforced what I learned (forgot) in my information management class. If I had to do it all over again, I would have taken the two classes back to back.
I also like to give props to the other presenters last night. The presentations were great, and everyone really seemed prepared on their subjects. Once again I learned a lot.
Tonight’s the night, the night of my presentation on the Categories for the Description of Works of Art (CDWA) schema. I’ve prepared as best I could; read the articles and the interviews with some of the editors as well as other stuff. I’m happy that the schema I randomly picked proved to be interesting one. Well it’s interesting to me, because I love art. That said I’m still trying to get a handle on the right side of things. I understand the left side (elements) and I sort of understand the gist of the right side, (rules-based data entry, and vocabularies, controlled and otherwise). I just wish, I had an encyclopedic knowledge of the subject. I hate public speaking and being fuzzy on a topic doesn’t help.
Anyway wish me luck.
I have news for Cory Doctorow: spimes are already here! They’re part of what’s known as the Internet of Things, and they are “smart” objects that interact with, and collect data about, the world around them. For example: my wife owns a Karotz smart rabbit that interacts with RFID tags in order to tell her the weather and perform other functions. It can also read her email to her and post her tweets to Twitter. She can control it with her smartphone, download apps for it via the Karotz website, and do various other things with it. She loves that thing, it’s a GEEK BUNNY (she loves furry critters) While the Karotz doesn’t actively collect info about the world around it (or does it??), there are smart objects out there that do- even your smart phone can tell you where it is (and smart houses- let’s consider THOSE for a moment).
I thought that the best part of the article were Doctorow’s caveats about privacy and the problems of embedding legal restrictions into the code: yes, they are “smart” but, as he points out, not smart to distinguish satire from and critical work. I found this part a bit confusing: “At the end of its lifespan, the spime is deactivated, removed from your presence by specialists…”- what does that mean? Is it an object that has been implanted in your body? An interesting idea (and, again, one that’s already out there: the contact lens that can monitor blood sugar, for instance)… What his description of spimes made me think of are those machines used by storm chasers: you know the ones that are left in the paths of tornadoes to be sucked up into the storm so that they can record and transmit all sorts of data about the storm itself. Anyway, an interesting article, but a bit more explanation would have been nice.
Bruce Sterling’s design future manifesto: viva spime!
Ugh, I’m getting tired. I’m running out of snark. Anyway I just got through reading AndyP’s (AndyP? Is he like librarian pop star) article on linkability. I agree with AndyP that emphasis should be more on “linkedness” rather than machine readability. Of course, this is easy for me to say as I’m reading this article in the year 2012. As he pointed out in this article, the early emphasis was put on ensuring that information was stored according to the historical methods of (library) retrieval, rather than on the Web as a method of retrieval: machine to machine, rather than persistent hyperlinks. The author laments the fact that he and his colleague “got wrong” the lack of focus on linkedness, and states that implementation of RDF is important for scholarly work that lives on the web. As RDF is a critical component of the Semantic Web (generally accepted as the new evolutionary phase of the World Wide Web).
I also agree with AndyP’s assertion that it’s important to move beyond “mere” XML files and recode the data into the machine-processable semantics-friendly RDF. His ideal world of “linkability of content, not just to other content but to concepts and people and places and everything else.” sounds an awful lot like a Wikipedia article… not that the idea is as awful as it once was: Wikipedia is, after all, an excellent example of the sort of linkedness which he holds up as an ideal.
Readability and linkability
Ok, ok, I admit it: I fall into the Wanting HTML5 to move in and blast Flash out of the Water camp (mostly because it’s time for something big to happen with the Web and not because of any particular loathing for Flash), even though I’ve know that it won’t happen (in the short-term, anyway) for two big reasons: 1) there’s no huge monetary benefit in switching to HTML5 (and, as the author points out, it doesn’t support DRM which means that They Who Make $$$ off of Videos will never in a million years go for it), and 2) The iOS Crowd doesn’t care because access to Flash doesn’t significantly hamper their web experience (there’s an app for YouTube and an app for Netflix- my video-watching needs are supported completely between those two!).
You rarely hear anyone say, “Well, I was GOING to buy an iPad, but the lack of Flash has made me change my mind”. In fact, NO ONE says that because the lack of Flash just isn’t that crippling. Furthermore, over half of American adults own smart phones and this statistic is pushing retailers, non-profits, and colleges towards mobile sites and apps and, since everyone is aware that Flash doesn’t work on one of the most popular platforms out there, developers are moving away from Flash.
I liked Herrman’s description of HTML5′s integration into the Web; he writes that we’ll see it: “infiltrating the web, not tearing it down and building it back up. Like the standard itself, the HTML5 web will evolve slowly, with web technologies gradually supplanting tools you use now.” In a slightly sinister analogy, think of the Borg and how they (it?) slowly replace their victims’ organic parts with machines until they are definitely more Borg than human. And of course the replacement will happen on the backend of things, with the end-user really none the wiser. We’ll have uninterrupted videos and mostly seamless interactions with the web, so we’ll never notice.
Resistance to LOL cats is Futile. Give in to the cute.
Giz Explains: Why HTML5 Isn’t Going to Save the Internet
It’s no secret that, while I see some of the value of back room organizational machinations by Brainiac librarians and others devoted to Perfect Hierarchical Order, that I believe that it behooves those in our profession to understand how patrons think in regard to information (whether text, visual, or audio) retrieval. Also, let us not forget that usability studies are a huge deal. I enjoyed Eileen Fry’s article “Of Torquetums, Flute Cases, and Puff Sleeves: A Study in Folksonomic and Expert Image Tagging” because she objectively explores both approaches and offers some hybrid solutions including: asking patrons for the tags that they would apply, but then vetting those through librarians before putting them into use in the catalogue or database; limiting tagging to certain contributors who have some expertise in a field (as Wikipedia locks down certain articles for editing only by specific people).
Frye describes the “DIDO Social Tagging and Folksonomies Experiment,” that she, along with MLIS grad students, created in order to test various methods of tagging. One aspect of that is an excellent example of mutualism: Frye provided a costume expert with ideally-sized images of various costumes in PowerPoint format and asked the expert to tag each image with terms that would be useful for her students to know.
"COMPLETELY INDESTRUCTIBLE!!! ...breathes like Egyptian cotton!"
The expert received ready-to-roll PPT images which she could immediately incorporate into her teaching, and Fry received expert tags with which to enrich the catalogue for users. I agreed with Frye’s conclusion regarding the value of having an expert tag images: she points out that, even with her training, expertise, and a reliable list of terms from which she works, she would never have the level of confidence in her tagging that a subject expert would possess.
Frye argues that the solution to this is access to tools within projects that would attract the interest of experts and also that “all the existing authoritative subject headings and tagging from major public and subscription image banks through a mythic Wikimedia Commons-Google Scholar-Flickr- Del.icio.us silver bullet.”… to which I can only reply, “So say we all!”
From March 21. I think I wrote so much because my wife uses de-li-cious, Flckr and Pinterest all the time! That’s why I built her a gaming machine folks. So she can pin things in Pinterest.
Kudos to Joan Beaudoin for her work on Flickr image tagging! Folksonomies are fascinating: they’re the will of the people, with all of the disorganization and chaos that accompany such freedom. Labyrinthine hierarchical structures laid out by people with arcane degrees? We don’t NEED no stinkin’ labyrinthine hierarchical structures! Power to the people! (Except when the people can’t find things that would be really cool for them to see because there’s no hierarchical structure operating in the background to ensure that they do).
My wife swears by delicious for her bookmarking needs and even uses it as a search engine- it works out really well, she claims, but I’m not so sure that I trust the folksonomy. So reading about Beaudoin’s methodical approach to studying Flickr was very interesting to me; she wanted to know two things: 1) was there an underlying pattern to image tagging and 2) how effective was the tagging. Beaudoin set up her study by gathering the “top 10 image tags of 14 randomly chosen Flickr users and downloaded them through the site’s open APIs.” She then applied labels to the 140 tags and then sorted them into 18 categories, which were then passed on to four people who assigned the tags to these categories. Beaudoin describes the agreements of all 5 as “modestly effective”. Having established that her method was suitable for moving forward, Beaudoin then determined some clear tagging preferences amongst Flickr users, namely: geographical locations and compound words were the top performers, with events following, and categories such as humor, poetic, and number falling well below 1%.
I was glad to see that Beaudoin addressed the problem of those who use tags that have personal meaning for them, but that have little meaning for other users. Beaudoin goes on to describe developments on Flickr’s end in the year after she completed her research: Flickr automatically date-stamps the image, identifies the type of camera used to take the image, and displays a map for any image that has been geotagged (and identifies other photos taken near that spot). As Beaudoin points out, this info may be all that’s available for an image if the uploader chooses not to tag it. Beaudoin posits that her research suggests some clear improvements that Flickr could implement: 1) prompting users with suggested tags, rather than expecting them to come up with them on their own (even to the point of providing thesaurae to aid in the tagging), and an automated pluralizing tool (“cat” would become “cats”, etc). She also suggests that it is our duty as IS professionals to assist people with tagging their images, which will then inform our own practices- a better understanding of how a patron thinks should influence how we think about tagging items for retrieval by patrons… which makes perfect sense to me.
Flickr Image Tagging: Patterns Made Visible by Joan Beaudoin