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
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.
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?
||Thursday, 1 Feb 2001
||Tuesday, 26 Feb 2002
||interoperability, metadata, standardisation, etb