Last call for review of new metadata documents

Gary Holton gary.holton at UAF.EDU
Tue Apr 1 14:24:21 UTC 2008

[re-posting ... my original posting bounced]

Dear Gary and others,

Sorry to weigh in at the eleventh hour. This is a very interesting
discussion and has certainly helped to clarify several issues for me. I
want to comment specifically on Jeff's proposal to delete the line

"A metadata repository should not degrade the 'signal-to-noise ratio' for
language resource discovery."

That sentence clarifies a crucial issue. Too much detail impedes rather
aides search. Part of the problem may be that from an archive point of
view, the library catalog is not the appropriate model. While I won't
propose deleting reference to library catalogs in the OLAC documents, I
think it is important to understand this distinction. A library strives to
catalog every physical item, so that even a 2-volume book will show up as
two entries in the catalog, even though it is logically one "work". A
traditional archive catalogs collections, which may contain multiple
individual documents. The metadata for each collection is in the form of a
finding aid, generally a prose document which describes the items in the
collection. The collection is also catalogued physically for the purposes
of physically locating items (eg., shelf 12, box 2, folder 5), but
descriptive metadata are not assigned at the box and folder level (though
reference to specific folders may be made in the finderlist prose). I
think the essence of the granularity discussion is that we want OLAC
metadata to be more archive-like than library-like.

In a sense, this resolves the hasTranscript discussion as well, because
the transcript will generally be a part of the same collection as the
resource which it is related to. In general, I find relations such as
hasTranscript to be of limited usefulness because they rely on uniform
coding by the cataloger, which is unlikely to happen. Any serious
researcher wishing to look for transcripts will need to consult the entire
collection rather than rely on a cataloger to identify those transcripts.
In order for the brave new world of linguistics (as envisioned, for
example, in Gary's plenary at EMELD 2007) to proceed we have to ensure
that researchers point back to the original collection rather just mine
the bit their browsers point to. Promoting coarse granularity will help to
achieve that.


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