Editor's Note: The Many Dimensions of Metadata
One of the biggest challenges with reporting on a technical topic like metadata and how it is disrupting and improving the book industry is trying to gauge the appropriate level of sophistication at which to begin the conversation. To some the use of metadata is a relatively unfamiliar concept. To others it's one they've been kicking and screaming about for years and the rest of the industry is only now catching up.
Overall we feel the understanding of metadata needs to be expanded. Perhaps your daily work brings you in contact with one part of the metadata chain, but the true value of metadata is sometimes better understood from the bird’s-eye view. The variety of topics covered in these pages will hopefully give you that wide-angle view, while also providing the opportunity for digging down into the nitty-gritty of metadata.
Our cover story, “The Metadata Millennium” should serve as a crash course on how the metadata ecosystem functions and its most crucial components. The author of this definitive piece is Bill Kasdorf, general editor of The Columbia Guide to Digital Publishing and vice president and principal consultant for Apex Content Solutions. Kasdorf explains his purpose in penning such a comprehensive work: “It’s important to see how rich and powerful metadata can be, but people often get a deer-in-the-headlights reaction when the topic comes up: They see how important it is but have a hard time figuring out what to do about it. I hope my article will help people to see how rich a resource the metadata landscape is today -- and how much it can make their work easier, rather than complicating it.”
The Information Age has engendered an accelerated global marketplace and metadata is one of the tools that will allow us to keep pace. If done right, implementing metadata will enhance and automate processes that used to require the cost of human labor. Yet few other business tactics in the book industry require the degree of industry-wide coordination that the adoption of metadata strategies does. That’s why we put a lot of emphasis on metadata standards, which serve as a common global language for doing book business in the modern era.