I agree that the actual data is not in the catalog per se, but it IS in a database somewhere. And the beauty of that digital information (which is where we are all headed) is that all of it can really now be mashed together to produce something new. The contents of _A Tale of Two Cities_ can now be seen in so many different ways: a histogram of word frequency, a chart of which characters have the most dialogue, locations in the novel can be mapped geographically over the course of the story. (I only wish I had an interactive map when reading A Game of Thrones to tell me who was where at which part of the novel!)
And you can then search for books that take place in certain cities, or in a time period, or have people who wear beige top hats in victorian England. The possibilities are endless! But the point is, to a computer, it's all just bits and bytes and numbers for the crunching. To open up these avenues of new things, we need to change our thinking about what these things are. And that is exciting.
On Feb 13, 2012, at 5:25 PM, Genny Engel wrote:
> I think this is a rather different situation from the one libraries commonly deal with, where there is a pretty clear distinction between data representing the full text of a 189-page book by Author X, and the descriptive data that is made up by catalogers or publishers, and is not part of Author X's work at all. In addition, it is somewhat useful to distinguish between full-text data and descriptive metadata because the nature of the work you can do with these two types of data can be so very different.
> You simply can't use the average library catalog to look up Author X's novel that starts with the sentence "So a string walks into a bar." The actual data (the novel) is not in the catalog (which is composed only of metadata).
> Genny Engel
> Sonoma County Library
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> 707 545-0831 x581
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Code for Libraries [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Nate Vack
> Sent: Monday, February 13, 2012 7:57 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [CODE4LIB] Metadata
> My take on this discussion, coming from a research lab: Metadata isn't meta.
> For example, in recordings of, say, blood pressure over time, it's
> common to think about things such as participant identifiers,
> acquisition dates, event markers, and sampling rates as "metadata,"
> and the actual measurements as "data."
> But really: those meta things aren't ancillary to data analysis;
> they're essential in keeping analyses organized, and often important
> parameters in running an analysis at all.
> Breaking things down into data versus metadata I think, encourages a
> false (and not very interesting) dichotomy. If information has a use,
> call it what it is: data. Store everything that's useful.
> If you don't yet have a use in mind for your data, then you have a
> place to start working :)