So I was in a conversation with a certain Scrabble player and was asked what I thought about collaboration. I said I was for it. The problem seemed to be credit – who gets the credit when something is a collaborative effort? And does it really matter?
I guess it depends on the project. Is your funding going to be affected? Your individual job? I mean, if you are not recognized as the Main Contributor or Instigator or whatever term you wish, will your job be affected? Or your pay? If so, then yes absolutely credit is important – but only to Those Who Have Power Over Your Paycheck. And you should be able to let them know by simply keeping them informed of your activities. But everyone else? Do they care?
I reckon the ‘ownership’ of the output could also be affected. Let’s say, for example, the Catalogers Of The World Unite and create a whopping big database of records to share and share alike. They collaborate to make the best possible records (updating when information isn’t there, perhaps correcting the odd mistake, adding more information, etc.). And let’s say, for example, to make it easy on everyone they form a consortia or even a membership-type group to share in this collaborative effort then the group organizing the consortia or group decides they own the output of the collaborate effort. I guess then credit could be important.
Cataloging IS a collaborative effort. Who out there really does original cataloging for each and every item that comes across the desk?
Data about data about data, oh I love it! Thanks to Christine Schwartz at Cataloging Futures for her recent post Should we capture metadata about metadata which lead me right over to The Power of Parametadata from VocabControl.
Parametadata, I must confess, is a whole new term for me. It really is data about data about data. In my little cataloger mind this is a goodly size chunk of the fixed field information in a MARC Bibliographic, the stuff the system will automatically calculate and insert for me (THANK GOD!). This is information about file size, dates (date added, date modified, etc.) – it is the information computers (and us humans) use without really thinking about it. How often do you re-sort your files by date to find the latest version? Or even just your email? I do it all the time and now I know what I’m doing – sifting thru parametadata.
As I think about it, parametadata is just as important than metadata itself. We don’t just need who wrote the email but when they sent it (or when received). We don’t just need to know which item is covered by the MARC Bibliographic record but also when it was created (008 positions 00-05) and when it was last modified (005 if you were wondering).
So, we’ve had parametadata all along, I just never knew it had a term associated with it. Sweet! As to Christine’s query “Should we capture metadata about metadata“? Uhm, yes. But let’s let the computer do that part as much as possible. It already does some of it (see above references to fixed fields), I think we should continue that and have the system display as needed in a human-readable form.
Ivy over at From the Catalogs of Babes posts about how what we are blogging about is not new, these are not new ideas. Go read her post. I’ll wait [insert musak ... wait! get permission and pay...now insert musak]
She’s nailed it. Totally. We are repeating the same concepts, same ideas, same thoughts that have been expressed for some years now in librarianship. Let’s do it. Let’s build a new system. One that actually inserts the punctuation as it should, one that is not run by MARC tags, indicators and subfield codes…
[rant: why do I still have to know what a 245 is? Why can't I just know how to discover the data on the item and put it into a system that lets me know TITLE FROM TITLE PAGE. Why do I have to tell the system the second indicator of the 245, why can it not know the initial articles? Do other systems (other than libraries) allow for filing under initial articles? No? Then do other systems require the inputter to tell the system it starts with an article? No? Why do library systems STILL REQUIRE THIS?]
…if you’ve read my other posts you know what I mean.
When & where can we start? I’m ready.
I’d also like to know why some catalogers resist tagging and social networking of the catalog. Tags expand the possibilites of discovery.
OK, I’ll come clean. I too resisted tags. I worried that they would replace the more structured metadata but I have Seen The Light. With a good search engine (one that incorporates use of weighed searches and complex algorithms), tags are beneficial (and honestly? generally make more sense to the searchers).
Yes, structured metadata is still needed, tags are the extra. The bow in the coiffed hair, the dangly on the necklace, the cream in my coffee…
The more I listen to things like this http://librarygang.talis.com/2010/03/18/library-2-0-gang-0310-the-semantic-web-and-linked-data/ and the more I see things like parallel records , the more I wonder about why we don’t have an easier way of gathering the data.
What do I mean? Well, have you ever filled out an online form? Ever used an Access database or created/used a spreadsheet? Why can’t we gather the information then let the SYSTEM display as desired, inserting things like “p.” for the pagination if we want. Why do I have to basically hard code that into the record each and every time? Why can’t there be a pagination entry field that I input “263” then use a drop down to denote pages or leaves or whatever? And this be changeable based on the language for the system itself?
Much of cataloging is data entry. It’s not all data entry, mind, just quite a bit of data entry. We still have some thinking involved and even creativity (or so I believe when I see some choices on subject headings or classification number) but the majority is data entry. Because almost all ILS out there require knowledge of MARC, it is specialized data entry.
I wonder if we had such a system, wouldn’t it make it easier to be all “semantic web” and stuff? And wouldn’t it make global updates easier? Wouldn’t we then be able to utilize Authority Files for real? [by 'for real' I mean that the linking fields actually did something for the searcher and aren't just there for reference for the cataloger]
And is this how places like Amazon or Borders do it? An actual inventory-like system?
You do. You need it. I need it. We all need it.
Do you use iTunes? Do you download music or just rip your own MP3s? When you pop the CD into the burner, does it auto-populate the fields? I mean, does the artist name, song title, album title, and perhaps even genre columns magically appear? That, my friend, is metadata.
Someone had to actually add that information into some sort of system and link it to the correct tracks on the correct CD. What do you do when the magic doesn’t happen? When all you get is “track 1″ and “track 2″ etc. but to have the information that “track 1″ is “Long, long time” from Guy Forsyth’s ‘Love Songs for and against’ CD…well, you’d have to type that in yourself. Huh. Do you? What happens when you want to play “track 1″ on your MP3 player? Do you remember how to find it in the hundreds of MP3s on your player? What if you had hundreds of “track 1″?
OK, let’s move on. Metadata also lives on websites…or should. Here’s my favorite example. I like loose tea. I like to make a pot of tea with loose leaves in it rather than tea bags. There is a great store in my city that sells excellent loose tea. I wanted to stop by after work and pick some tea up. I needed to know what their business hours were though. So I “googled” it (actually I “yahooed” but “googled’ sounds better). I could not remember the name of the store but I knew where it was located (the street) and I knew they sold loose tea and coffees. I tried several search combinations to no avail. I spent about 15 minutes searching but could not find it – even went thru several pages of search results. Finally I phoned a friend to find the name of the shop. I input the name of the shop in my search and BOOM, there it was.
Why couldn’t I find it? No metadata. Also, the page was built in Flash. Everything was image based with no text tags to describe or detail what was appearing. Essentially the lovely website is lost on the wide webbie world.
Here’s another fun example. Go try to find Sky River, a newish entry into the world of cataloging services. They provide a cataloging client and MARC records and other stuff. Try to find them. Go on. I’ll wait. Now, go to their website. Try to view their source…I wasn’t able to view it today but in the past they had no metadata. I “googled/yahooed” but could not find this service despite my searching for them in every combination I could think of. Huh. That’s funny. You’d think a cataloging resource would recognize the value of metadata. I can’t even find who they are affiliated with today – seems like it is one of the Major ILS but I disremember which one. Anyone know? Or can you find the information?
And what about documents? Images? Ever try to do a search on your computer for a MS Word document? If only you’d added tags, description and a title to that document! What about pictures? Trying to scan thru hundreds of shots of your dog to find the one with your cat? What if you added tags to it? Labelled it? Ohhh that would make it sooo much easier to find.
That’s what catalogers do. they make it easier to find. They use standards and formats designed to be consistent across catalogs so (1) other catalogers can use that data rather than re-doing all the work and (2) so you can have the same experiences across the universe of libraries.
If only the whole world embraced cataloging and metadata! Perhaps if we all change our titles to “metadata specialists”?
So I was channel surfing and ended up watching a biography of Betty White (is she incredible or what?) when an epiphany occured! Password was really a show about metadata!
Yes. Have you seen it? Password was a game in which you tried to guess the ‘secret’ word. You were helped along to the discovery by a celebrity. Allen Ludden (Betty’s husband) hosted. He would hand the celebrities the ‘secret’ word. The celebrity would study the word then meaningfully say a different word to the contestant. This meaningful word was meant to prompt the contestant to say the secret word.
Hmm, what we have here is an early metadata game. The clues are metadata – terms meant to describe the secret word.
Reckon the Pyramid could also be considered an early metadata game?
Metadata is data about data. We use metadata all the time in real life. In libraryland metadata care & maintenance is within the purview of catalogers. Metadata is what makes searching more concise.
Library Catalogers (now often called “metadata specialists”) use specific language to create their metadata. AACR2 and ISBD rule the life of a cataloger (haha, cataloger joke! rules rule! er, ok, nevermind). Using the Chief Source of Information (as dictated by the appropriate chapter of AACR2), the cataloger extracts metadata then creates additional metadata finishing by inputting it all to MARC format.
Hmm. Wow. So many new avenues to explore in that one little paragraph: What is MARC? Do all catalogers use it? AACR2? ISBD? Not to mention metadata in the larger world and Betty White’s mad game playing skilz…
Maybe blogging won’t be so hard after all