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Seemingly gliding: the power of metadata in academic resource discovery systems

Creators of resource discovery systems are at a turning point in development: their systems must satisfy the users’ needs for the delivery of high-quality, academically-rigorous content, while also providing the most straight-forward, Google-like interfaces possible. The role of metadata in this scenario becomes paramount as users enter a world which seems serendipitous, but which is still subject to academic rigour, relevance and comprehensiveness. Ironically, such a system, necessarily supported by high-quality metadata, increasingly conceals them, thus lowering their profile in the user’s mind, and their importance becomes even more camouflaged to the user community. Without them, however, there is no system. This paper explores this dichotomy, describing a vision for resource discovery which creates a seamless journey between related, yet disparate, resources. It moves on to look at a case study of a single tool: the HASSET thesaurus, developed at the UK Data Archive. This tool’s journey from an inhouse-developed thesaurus to the lynch-pin of many online services is described in detail. Lastly, the paper takes the theory of achieving focused results from a simple interface and, using HASSET, applies it to an existing service: the Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS). Metadata is shown to be the essential – and yet increasingly invisible – force at work in effective resource discovery systems.

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EIAH data model: semantic interoperability between distributed digital repositories

The encyclopaedia of Iranian architectural history was established with the goal of increasing the accessibility of the widespread resources and documents related to Iranian architectural history and to provide a better and more productive space for collaboration of researchers and scholars, enabling them to expand and improve this encyclopaedia. The information architecture which started to get implemented is aimed to achieve three goals. First, increase the accessibility of the documents related to topics; second, the relation between concepts; third, the relation between concepts and documents. A three-layer architecture is designed to achieve the mentioned goals (EIAH cake). The underlying layer is a pool of information which is an integration of distributed digital repositories in our case. The top level is the knowledge representation level, an ontology of Iranian architectural history and the last layer which sits in the heart of this architecture is the mediator level which is responsible for establishing the relation between concepts and documents and enhancing search and semantic interoperability. The metadata model for describing resources in distributed digital repositories is customized based on Dublin Core with refinements. All documents in distributed repositories get their metadata according to this model and a detector agent (the mediator level) harvest metadata to interpret them by the ontology (the top layer). The results of this process will be presented in a semantic portal or might be used for complex search queries by end users. When this happens on a federation of distributed digital repositories, the ocean of separated documents becomes much meaningful and interpretable by human scholars.

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Here comes everything

In order for businesses to remain relevant in the quickly changing digital environment, content solutions that can be easily adopted and deployed are critical to maintaining a competitive edge. Unfortunately, the marketplace cannot wait for the slow development of standards to guide their needs, nor for the even slower approval process by an industry body. Instead, it requires a bold leap from an informed theoretical base to an implementable strategy.

At The Walt Disney Company, Madi Solomon used the FRBR conceptual model and the research papers of Dr. Jane Hunter to design a simple but effective moving-image metadata model that captured the several instantiations of a single intellectual property across a broad spectrum of consumables (think movies, television series, books, soundtracks, games, and theme park rides). This metadata standard was released to the public last year and has been adopted by Disney and Universal/NBC.

At Pearson Plc, the publishing conglomerate, educational content is evolving with Teachers twittering syllabi to their students, online learning modules are made available on demand, and content can be customized out of chunks from different sources. As their Director of Content Standards, Madi is tackling similar challenges in a new domain. They include how to make diverse resources easily accessible for both editors and consumers, how to maintain relationships and usage history of customizable objects, and how to successfully track these components for rights and royalty payments.

Here Comes Everything is a presentation from a business perspective: a little chaos, a lot of risk, and the expedient urgency of now. [No paper submission]

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Automatic Metadata Generation - A Better Alternative to Controlled Vocabularies

Automatic metadata generation for resource discovery. This research exercise was carried out for JISC in 2006. Aimed to establish the state of the art regarding machine extraction and generation of metadata. Considered the whole range of metadata: descriptive, technical, rights, preservation, subject, LOM, etc. Embraced both intrinsic and extrinsic metadata. Extrinsic metadata tools show rapid development. The majority of tools use a controlled vocabulary or other subject authority.

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