Metadata enrichment for digital heritage: users as co-creators

Getaneh Alemu

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This paper espouses the concept of metadata enrichment through an expert and user-focused approach to metadata creation and management. To this end, it is argued the Web 2.0 paradigm enables users to be proactive metadata creators. As Shirky (2008, p.47) argues Web 2.0?s social tools enable ?action by loosely structured groups, operating without managerial direction and outside the profit motive?. Lagoze (2010, p. 37) advises, ?the participatory nature of Web 2.0 should not be dismissed as just a popular phenomenon [or fad]?. Carletti (2016) proposes a participatory digital cultural heritage approach where Web 2.0 approaches such as crowdsourcing can be sued to enrich digital cultural objects. It is argued that ?heritage crowdsourcing, community-centred projects or other forms of public participation?. On the other hand, the new collaborative approaches of Web 2.0 neither negate nor replace contemporary standards-based metadata approaches. Hence, this paper proposes a mixed metadata approach where user created metadata augments expert-created metadata and vice versa. The metadata creation process no longer remains to be the sole prerogative of the metadata expert. The Web 2.0 collaborative environment would now allow users to participate in both adding and re-using metadata. The case of expert-created (standards-based, top-down) and user-generated metadata (socially-constructed, bottom-up) approach to metadata are complementary rather than mutually-exclusive. The two approaches are often mistakenly considered as dichotomies, albeit incorrectly (Gruber, 2007; Wright, 2007) . This paper espouses the importance of enriching digital information objects with descriptions pertaining the about-ness of information objects. Such richness and diversity of description, it is argued, could chiefly be achieved by involving users in the metadata creation process. This paper presents the importance of the paradigm of metadata enriching and metadata filtering for the cultural heritage domain. Metadata enriching states that a priori metadata that is instantiated and granularly structured by metadata experts is continually enriched through socially-constructed (post-hoc) metadata, whereby users are pro-actively engaged in co-creating metadata. The principle also states that metadata that is enriched is also contextually and semantically linked and openly accessible. In addition, metadata filtering states that metadata resulting from implementing the principle of enriching should be displayed for users in line with their needs and convenience. In both enriching and filtering, users should be considered as prosumers, resulting in what is called collective metadata intelligence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-156
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Information and Library Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2018
Externally publishedYes


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