Wednesday, January 05, 2005

metadata for the masses

The Google announcement about its digitization project has raised many comments/criticisms about the lack of professionally created metadata (that done by professional catalogers). The conversation predates the Google announcement. Peter Merholz' essay is a thoughtful attempt to recognize the significant advantages of user-tagging and professionally developed metadata.
In looking for a real-world analog, I thought of the foot-worn paths that appear in a landscape over time. Called “desire lines,” these trails demonstrate how a landscape’s users choose to move, which is often not on the paved paths. A smart landscape designer will let wanderers create paths through use, and then pave the emerging walkways, ensuring optimal utility.
He suggests allowing users to create tags or metadata that indicate how they search for information. Professionals can then build links between multiple terms and resolve conflicting terms.