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 Related Article: Prof Erik Duval On MoU between LOM and DCMI

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December 2000 the LOM Working Group and DCMI signed the Joint Memorandum of Understanding. The MoU is supported by metadata authority groups like the Ariadne Foundation, EdNA (Education Network Australia), GEM (Gateway to Educational Materials) and IMS Global Learning Consortium.
According to Prof. Erik Duval, chair of the CEN ISSS Learning Technologies Workshop, this consensus between leading metadata groups is a clear sign that there will be a common way to proceed regardless of the metadata approach currently adopted.

Where it all came from:
About three years ago the question most frequently asked of Erik Duval when talking about metadata was: “…but, what is metadata? ”Now” he smiles “the questions focus more on the use of the metadata, e.g. what kind should I start using? Are there any tools? or What is the benefit of Dublin Core compared to LOM, or vice versa? Or even, eventually which one will win, DC or LOM?”

The development of two metadata standards was quite unfortunate and in benefit of anybody. On the contrary, this two track development was making people hesitant about using metadata at all. The Joint Memorandum of Understanding is a reaction to that situation, as E. Duval puts it “we’d rather take the paralell track, since we both are walking to the same destination” – this destination is the use of metadata.

Here we come to the issue of thinking big; this kind of Memorandum is like kissing the sky, but hey, somebody has to think positive. “This MoU is to promote the large-scale adoption of metadata, and to show to different organisations, communities, and other sectors: Don’t wait anymore! Starting using metadata in the information objects is important. It’s not worth waiting to see who’s going to be the biggest, from now on the community is able to work together.”

Ok, but what do I get out of it:
The common knowledge of our days is that only a few search engines consider metadata when making requests. Here Erik Duval sees the ancient dilemma of chicken and egg: which comes first? He strongly believes that the moment is here to build up on metadata; there are several R&D projects working on the metadata based search engines, more and more search engines come up with quality results to queries. And even if a regular Sunday net-user isn’t necessary aware of the fact that behind all his good “hits” lies the issue of metadata, they make their voice heard by choosing that particular search engine. And like anywhere: the demand creates, sooner or later, plenitude of offer. We will see powerful search engines, partly or entirely automatic tools to extract and generate metadata…all these gadgets to improve search capability.

…and when:
Professor Duval foresees the next six months of MoU as being focused on technical investigations: there will be a small group sitting together exploring possible ways forward, e.g. can XML, RDF and namespace strategies bring any answers? He gives a funny example, an analogy, about the language issue. Imagine two people having different mother tongues: either he writes Dutch to me and I get it automatically translated into Finnish, or he writes Esperanto to me, assuming we both understand it. Another solution could be an in-between answer, sort of bridge that help us cross-communicate. This is what he calls “act small: let’s see where we can start”.

Eventually, with careful estimation, he thinks it would take time to pin down all the issues and have actually some sort of visible results to show. Meanwhile he encourages people to incorporate metadata, in whatever form, in their electronic publications. Left to see where this strategy takes him and the initiative of MoU. We are intrigued to see, and of course, we wait for the following sequence: where does ETB stand in all this?

Information:
Author: Riina Vuorikari
Web Editor: Riina Vuorikari
Published: Thursday, 1 Feb 2001
Last changed: Tuesday, 26 Feb 2002
Keywords: interoperability, metadata, standardisation, etb