Labelling and metadata

Margaret Carew margaret.carew at BATCHELOR.EDU.AU
Mon May 3 23:46:02 UTC 2010

Useful thread, and I am now looking back at my various drives with one eyebrow raised...

I'm wondering, what is the role of folders in all this?

I have an almost well organised system of audio recordings that is in the main not archived (although carefully backed up!), from various years and places. I have established a folder for each year that has passed since I commenced recording in digital (ie. 2006 2007 etc). Within each of these year folders is a recording session folder with a name that includes the year and month (sometimes day) the place and the event or key topic. Within each of these secondary folders are the recordings that are part of that session, with a date, speaker and other semantic info (eg. 20100209_BP_kurdu_wita.WAV). The metadata files (marked up text files) are stored within each folder, and the name of the folder is entered as a field in the metadata.

Like my erstwhile colleague Greg I'm probably closer to the hodge-podge end of things, doing lots of recordings with students, sometimes in a bit of a random fashion, multi-tasking like crazy, yet trying to keep some order in it. I'm now wondering whether the folder based system is going to be a problem when it comes to archiving - one thing that has popped up is the existence of these lots of folder based metadata files - this might need to be consolidated into one file.

I might also add that I've become fond of using itunes to make playlists of recordings - usually edited ones - and to use as a secondary database (a kind of partial mirror if you like). You can use the file info to point back to the folderised filenames as described. And it's great for making CDs for students of their recordings, to repatriate materials quickly etc. Also good for compiling files that will be used in a resource (eg. a set of clips for a voiceover) Am I committing an archiving crime by using itunes in this way?


Marg Carew

-----Original Message-----
From: Claire Bowern [mailto:clairebowern at]
Sent: Tue 04/05/2010 00:49
To: David Nathan
Cc: Resource-Network-Linguistic-Diversity
Subject: Re: Labelling and metadata
David, that would work at the end of the documentation (in fact I'm
doing something pretty close to that right now for One Arm Point
School for Bardi stories) but while working on the collection, doing
searches, transcribing, etc, I'm constantly using the underlying
files, and I'm not sure that creating another layer of reference would
solve the problem. It would be useful for managing collections where
there are several numbering systems though (e.g. I have tapes that
have 3 references - the AIATSIS archive tape number, the internal
collection number, and the number they'd get if I put them in my

On Mon, May 3, 2010 at 6:58 AM, David Nathan <dn2 at> wrote:
> Dear all
> About the filenames, there are some excellent suggestions in this
> thread, but I think that there is a tendency to conflate the function
> of filenames as identifers with the functions that enable retrieval
> and access to resources. This conflation remains invisible only while
> we all keep imagining that documentation materials are merely "data" -
> without some genres, granularities, interface considerations etc. that
> relate to the presentation and usage of the resources. In that sense,
> you might think (even hypothetically) of the interface by which you
> might wish people to access them, and it is probably likely to be some
> kind of link. As those familiar with HTML and related technologies
> know, a link has a target as well as a "display text" (and other
> possible attributes in semantic web formalisms). Translating this back
> to one's local data management, there seems a good case for separating
> out the two functions mentioned above, and thinking about a simple
> linking system (that you can implement easily in spreadsheet pages, or
> HTML), and then the relevant considerations for what you want the
> "display text" to be - for yourself, and, quite possibly differently,
> for other users. This might help resolve out the different issues that
> are most relevant for each function in your contexts.
> best wishes
> David
> At 18:11 03/05/2010, you wrote:
>>If you are going to include semantics in the file names can I make a plea that your labels are a little more transparent -- why not use:
>>rather than FM09_v10A ?? v could stand for "version" or "volume" or who knows what else, and, as for "A", well that's anyone's guess. Also, if the "09" is a year then write it as >2009 (one might even argue for "felicity" or "meakins" rather than "FM"). I recommend separators like _ as well, as Bill Poser did in his contribution to this discussion. Note also, >that if you have more than 99 video sessions you'll need the label to be:
>>I think there are good reasons for being a little more explicit in file names if you want to put in some (useful) semantics like this -- after all YOU know what "FM" "09" "v" "A" mean >but who else could guess? Compare that with:
> On 3 May 2010 18:19, Felicity Meakins <f.meakins at> wrote:
> This is a good point, particularly if you use two recorders (e.g. audio
> recorded plus video camera) to record the same session. I use 'v' and 'a' to
> distinguish these. In this respect, it is the recording _session_ that's
> primary, not the actual recording.
> FM09_v10A
> FM=me
> 09=year (full date is in metadata)
> v=video
> 10=recording session
> A=part of recording session
> e.g. recording session may have taken place at X place but over two hours we
> recorded 3 stories A, B, C.
> On 3/5/10 6:13 PM, "Joe Blythe" <blythe.joe at> wrote:
>> The only two cents worth I'd like to add to this discussion is that I had to
>> modify my numbering numbering system to indicate whether the original
>> recording was made with a video or dedicated audio recorder. I only mark the
>> video ones as "vid".
>> Thus video files might be
>> Because you sometimes need to extract audio files from video files the video
>> file, such an extracted audio file would be
>> 20100503JBvid01.wav
>> This ensures that any files recorded on the same date from a dedicated audio
>> recorder (e.g., 20100503JBv01.wav) don't end up with the same file name.
>> Joe
> --
> Prof Peter K. Austin
> Marit Rausing Chair in Field Linguistics
> Department of Linguistics, SOAS
> Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square
> London WC1H 0XG
> United Kingdom
> web:
> -------------
> David Nathan
> Endangered Languages Archive
> -------------

More information about the Resource-network-linguistic-diversity mailing list