Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Semantic Web BlahdeBlah

Reading about how libraries need to embrace the Semantic Web. Here's my note in the margins to myself:

"Isn't there a larger problem with metadata for the Semantic Web (or XML, or MARC) that all these tags are still *text*, and therefore subject to misspellings, misunderstandings, and the vagaries of the human mind? The problem that we have with databases and their inability to catch inconsistencies is also a problem for any XML or Semantic Web entity. You can call a cat a cat or a feline or a kat or a kitty, and no one can nay-say your tag. But your tag will not necessarily fall in with other tags which may be the same *thing*, but not the same *word.*"

I'm interested in how we resolve this problem. It's a problem that catalogers have obviously been wrestling with since time out of mind, but now we have an infinitely larger population of data-inputters, with infinitely less training in the importance of standardization and uniformity of metadata. Are we forced to just give up and let things be kind of crappy? I don't know that the answer is just "more programming."

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"Wicked people never have time for reading. It's one of the reasons for their wickedness." —Lemony Snicket, The Penultimate Peril.