Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Locative Metadata

When we index at Randforce, we develop controlled vocabularies (also known as thesauri) for annotated passages of audio and video. Technically, the objects we are indexing are metadata themselves. (Thus we create meta-metadata!) For discussion purposes, the objects we are indexing are a/v clips.

We often conceptualize the process of indexing to be less like "labeling" something (i.e., what is it called?) and more like "putting it somewhere" (i.e., where does it belong?) and we sometimes call this "sorting the laundry." The proverbial laundry baskets are created by us indexers and the objects influence its creation in a meaningful way. It seems to me, that when these terms are fed back to the object, they are a unique type of metadata.

I'd like to propose that this type of metadata being created might be called "locative metadata". Locative metadata, conceptually, is more than an attribute of the object. Locative metadata implies "where it is" relative to other objects in the collection, not just what it is about. Locative metadata might also be a purely digital concept exactly because an object can reside in more than one location at a time (without needing to take up additional space). In this sense, library subject headings--from the book's perspective--is locative metadata, as are hyperlinks to an object from the objects' perspective.

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