Dec 30, 2009

more on metadata and digital publishing

Edward Vielmetti has an interesting take on Ben Hammersley's post from yesterday re. metadata and publishing...

Metadata only works when you un-meta it and deal with it again as data.  The list of metadata elements that I care enough to keep updating is not just meta; it's a first class real list, one that has to be treated as a first class citizen and not just some accidental system artifact.  

Three points that have been rattling about in my head since reading Ben's and now Ed's post.

First, capturing and associating the metadata necessary for publishers needs to be as natural as possible. For a writer / journalist / blogger, or any type of content creator, that means that it not only needs to be part of the workflow, but it needs to actually add value to the piece they're creating. Hyperlinks are a simple example of this; they can illustrate a point, add context for the reader, act as a punchline. And annotating content with hyperlinks has become an easy and natural part of the writing process.

Second, workflow should focus on the things where humans add value; hyperlinks are obviously one, and non-obvious contextual tagging. Let machines do the obvious stuff -- scanning for proper nouns, place names, company names, addresses / locations, stock symbols, etc.

And third, as I've pointed out a few times here, I think the biggest challenge will be integrating the social and the real-time into the digital magazine experience. Clay Shirky made a great point at SxSW this year: that basically by definition content that's more than about 500 words long is not about now. So, what's the best way to connect content that was about then with a community experience that is about now? And how can all this (meta)data help?