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.
Two articles in particular explore two very important standards: In “Global State of Mind,” executive director of the Book Industry Study Group Len Vlahos makes the case for why the U.S. publishing industry should embrace Thema global subject codes. In “Raising the Standard,” chief data architect at EDItEUR Graham Bell explains that time is ticking for publishers to transition from ONIX 2.1 to 3.0.
In every issue of Book Business we seek to provide amplification for a variety of voices. However, in this issue in particular, we sought out the expertise, leadership, and know-how of others for an especially complex topic. Special thanks goes out to all our contributors.
You could say our grand objective here is to strike a balance in such a manner that we're helping to push the conversation about metadata forward without leaving people behind. If you feel we're moving too far ahead, please let us know and we'll try to fill in the holes. If you think we need to push the conversation into new territory, share your thoughts on where it should be going.
As a footnote, I’d like to mention how excited I am to be leading Book Business magazine as the new editor-in-chief. It's certainly a very exciting time to be reporting on the changes under way in the industry. Please feel free to reach out to me at any time with any ideas for coverage, to contribute writing, or alert us to news from your organizations. That’s where we get our best ideas.
Denis Wilson is editor-in-chief of Book Business and Publishing Executive. In this role, he analyzes and reports on the fundamental changes affecting the publishing industry and aims to serve content-driven businesses with practical and strategic insight. As a writer, Denis’ work has been published by Fast Company, Rolling Stone, Fortune, and The New York Times.