Hey blog, welcome to life – it happens.
So you know those posts I wrote before where I was working on combined data sets from different sources that all have Solr indexes? That topic is – in trying to keep with the cooking/baking/food theme – on the back burner; I’m letting the dough rise; it’s in the fridge marinating; I’m gonna get back to that.
Other matters have come to the forefront of my metadata working life, such that I am now embroiled in concepts initially hard to grasp and tasks seemingly insurmountable. It can essentially be summed up in a few bullet points, though, I think:
- managing metadata standards as they are expressed in various formats
- transitioning data in those metadata standards from one format to another for various uses
- explaining all of this so that it is understandable and no one rolls their eyes so far back in their head as to resemble a zombie
I think that last point is the toughest, by far. This stuff becomes so esoteric and full of jargon so quickly. I also think that tends to happen when people don’t quite understand what they are talking about themselves. Just keep reading and you’ll probably see for yourself what I mean.
I read a light-hearted blog called Go Fug Yourself where publicity photos of celebrity fashion are examined for fabulousness and fugliness. The writing is entertaining and no one is personally skewered but it’s gotten to the point where they can’t even talk about people wearing see-through clothing/sheer fabrics anymore. They now talk about it using pizza as an analogy because it is so ubiquitous and terrible at the same time (the see-through clothing, not pizza). It can’t really be discussed any further because it’s been discussed ad nauseam and the writer’s eyes, if not the reader’s, glaze over (but are not see-through).
I think the same may apply when talking about metadata sometimes. It effects everything and can still be the most difficult part of a project to understand and manage. Maybe it’s better to talk in pure analogies that will keep the reader’s attention than to try and directly discuss, say, the implications of MODS as expressed in RDF (because while complex hierarchical XML is expressible as complex sets of triple stores, it appears to be highly unusable in practical programmatic terms). For folks who read through that sentence without “blah-blah-blahing” in their heads, we have metadata nerdery in common. Yay us. But trying to express how this is relevant to developers, and to the systems they make, and to the end users who need to use those systems just can’t happen when these issues mean different things to different metadata users and it’s all so massively jumbled together with acronyms and metadata codespeak.
So I am endeavoring to address the bullet points above, in article format and with more detail, using cases I know and other cases I know about where these problems are being tackled in various ways. Whether this results in recommendations for ways to handle metadata transformations for different standards and uses or is just an attempt to plainly explain the problems being encountered, it is going to be helpful to me and hopefully helpful to others as well. I would like a donut now, please.