OHA 2008 - Making Sense of Metadata: A Practical Overview for Oral Historians


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Densho\'s Director of Information and Technology Geoff Froh presents a broad overview of metadata concepts and their application to oral history projects through the experiences of the Densho project. (Delivered 10/18/2007 at the Oral History Association Annual Meeting, Pittsburg, PA)

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  • OHA 2008 - Making Sense of Metadata: A Practical Overview for Oral Historians

    1. 1. The Japanese American Legacy Project Preserving the past, inspiring the future
    2. 2. Making Sense of Metadata: A Practical Overview for Oral Historians Geoff Froh, Densho OHA Pittsburgh October 18, 2008
    3. 3. Today… <ul><li>Metadata Basics </li></ul><ul><li>Metadata Standards for Oral History </li></ul><ul><li>Metadata in Oral History Practice </li></ul>
    4. 4. Metadata Basics
    5. 5. What Is Metadata? <ul><li>“ Data about data” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Structured information that describes the attributes of an information package for the purpose of identification, discovery and management” (Taylor 2004) </li></ul>
    6. 6. A Simple Example Title Author Publisher Date Format Bitrate Subject Size Owner
    7. 7. What Are the Types of Metadata? <ul><li>Descriptive </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What is it? What is it called? What is it about? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Administrative </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What format is it? When was it created? Who owns it? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Structural </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What are the parts? How are they related? </li></ul></ul>
    8. 8. What Is a Schema? <ul><li>A definition of the structure and semantics </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Elements/attributes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Documentation of intended meaning </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Provide rules for the values </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Syntax </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Controlled vocabularies </li></ul></ul>
    9. 9. How Is Metadata Recorded? <ul><li>Together with the resource </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Embedded in the file format </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Wrapped into a single file </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Separate from the resource </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Database </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Structured flat-file (XML) </li></ul></ul>
    10. 10. What Is XML? <ul><li>Text-based format for data exchange </li></ul><ul><li>Data definition bundled with the data </li></ul><Book> <Title>Listening Is An Act of Love</Title> <Author>Isay, David</Author> <ISBN>0143114344</ISBN> . . . </Book>
    11. 11. Why Metadata? <ul><li>Resource Discovery </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Help Users Find Things </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Archiving and Preservation </li></ul><ul><li>Make Things Last </li></ul><ul><li>Interoperability </li></ul><ul><li>Allow Groups to Exchange Things </li></ul>
    12. 12. Metadata Standards for Oral History
    13. 13. What Are Standards And Why Would We Need Them? <ul><li>Standards Are An Agreement: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To Use a Common Schema </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To Participate and Collaborate </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Standards Provide: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Interoperability (I can share what I create) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Guidance (I can learn how to create) </li></ul></ul>
    14. 14. DC: Dublin Core <ul><li>A generalized method for describing all kinds of electronic (and non-electronic) resources </li></ul><ul><li>Developed by broad coalition of users </li></ul><ul><li>Supported by a wide range of applications </li></ul><ul><li>Simple – 15 core elements </li></ul>
    15. 15. EAD: Encoded Archival Description <ul><li>A method of encoding finding aids – a description and inventory of materials in an archive </li></ul><ul><li>From the archival and library science traditions </li></ul><ul><li>Complex </li></ul><ul><li>Archivists’ Toolkit </li></ul>
    16. 16. TEI: Text Encoding Initiative <ul><li>A way of representing textual materials (monographs, performances, transcripts) </li></ul><ul><li>Used by a variety of disciplines across the humanities </li></ul><ul><li>Usually encoded by hand (oxygenXML) </li></ul><ul><li>Requires an application profile (TEI-Lite) </li></ul>
    17. 17. METS/PREMIS <ul><li>A container format for digital objects </li></ul><ul><li>Focused on the exchange of resources and metadata between institutions </li></ul><ul><li>More for machines than for humans </li></ul><ul><li>Supported by a few applications (CONTENTdm); but usually custom solutions </li></ul><ul><li>Complex – modular structure </li></ul>
    18. 18. Why So Many Standards? <ul><li>Different uses, different users </li></ul><ul><li>Same resource may be described in multiple ways </li></ul><ul><li>Mix and Match = OK </li></ul><ul><li>Sometimes, standards are not enough… </li></ul>
    19. 19. Metadata in Oral History Practice
    20. 20. Wayback Machine: Circa 2000 <ul><li>Legacy data </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Created by non-experts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Trapped in silos </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Standards still emerging </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No good examples to follow </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Very few tools </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Roll our own… </li></ul>
    21. 21. Densho Archive Framework
    22. 22. Two Questions <ul><li>Who Will Use Our Metadata? </li></ul><ul><li>How Will We Produce Our Metadata? </li></ul>
    23. 23. Who Uses Our Metadata? <ul><li>Audience analysis </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Staff </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Densho Digital Archive & public website visitors </li></ul></ul><ul><li>In the Future … </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Partner repositories </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Search agents </li></ul></ul>
    24. 24. Metadata Tools
    25. 25. Metadata Tools
    26. 26. Metadata Tools
    27. 27. Metadata Tools
    28. 28. Metadata Tools
    29. 29. Metadata Tools
    30. 30. How Do We Produce Metadata? <ul><li>Workflow analysis </li></ul><ul><ul><li>When does metadata capture happen? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Who is responsible? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Custom web application – Densho Archive Manager </li></ul>
    31. 31. Metadata Tools
    32. 32. Metadata Tools
    33. 33. In Summary… <ul><li>Metadata is about discovery, preservation and interoperability </li></ul><ul><li>Standards provide guidance </li></ul><ul><li>Metadata should serve local needs </li></ul>
    34. 34. Thank you! http://www.densho.org/ http://archive.densho.org/