Would the real source of metadata please stand up?

By Sean McGrath, ITworld |  Opinion

Authors can and should take the time to
classify the content they produce, preferably at the time they produce
it, for ease of retrieval later on.

Although I have sympathies with this view, the evidence would suggest
that metadata-in-content strategies end up being more honored in the
breach than in the observance. As a social phenomenon - embedded
metadata as classically formulated - has been, and continues to be a
disappointment.

On the other hand, search engines like Google have shown what a powerful
source of metadata the link structure of the Web can be. As a social
phenomenon, Google (and of course The web of links on which it depends)
has been a runaway success.

Such non-classical approaches to classification metadata look set to
expand greatly over the next few years. Perhaps the biggest buzz at the
moment surrounds the possibility of using relationships between
like-minded bloggers as a sort of 'collective intelligence'[2] to tune
search results based on results that their peers think are relevant.

One might ask - is this sort of thing really metadata? Some would say
'no'. I would say 'yes'. It is metadata all right, metadata of the most
potent kind, organically grown and self modifying based on how
information is actually used in the real world.

It is metadata, but it has not been filed where we expected to find it.

The irony of that, really appeals to me.

[1] http://www.usemod.com/cgi-bin/mb.pl?TransClusion
[2] http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?CollectiveIntelligence

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