Week Eight: Tags; ontology and taxonomy

Kia Guest

This week’s readings cover software utilized in digital history and archives, as well as demystifying metadata and various other aspects of digital history software and archival methods.

The first reading “Metadata for All: Descriptive Standards and Metadata Sharing across Libraries, Archives, and Museums” discusses the challenges various outlets face with integrating digital content. The author decides to demystify metadata by breaking down and categorizing the different types digital standards and practices used by libraries, museums, and archives.

It was pretty interesting to learn about the history behind digitizing history before it became what are accustomed to in today’s archives. According to “Metadata for All…” the first digital software, AMICO Library was created in 1997 and seemed to be tedious and labor intensive with regards to properly archiving a piece of historical data. With the digitization of history becoming more of the norm, standard practices of digitizing historic data were created by a group of Californian institutions. The main concepts of the standards were data fields and structure, which according to this article, as like bottles waiting to be filled with whatever substance is needed. Data content and data values establish what will be filled into the data fields and structure. Data format pertains to the information coded within a particular file, and data exchange refers to the methods in which a collection is shared with the public. Using the bottles metaphor to describe each standard practice was very helpful in terms of explaining the importance of the implementation of the standards and practices. It was also interesting to find out that standards and practices produced by the California institutions was not a new practice. The first set of rules and standards for museums and libraries was created in 1852 by Smithsonian Librarian Charles Coffin Jewett (pg. 12).

In keeping with the theme of historical software, the article “Omeka and Its Peers” compares Omeka with other competing digitization software. However, the article quickly asserts that there is no comparison, that Omeka wins hands down. Omeka offers resources for librarians, academic users, and archives to present to the public a fascinating online exhibition for little of nothing cost wise. According to the article, no other software offers the same perks that Omeka offers. This article pretty much reads as an advertisement for Omeka, which is hard to argue against when you read about how beneficial it is to users who want to provide digital exhibitions for public consumption. Though brief in length, this article provided enough information regarding the usefulness of Omeka.

The article on Yahoo and resignation of one of Yahoo’s earliest staffers, Srinija Srinivasan did not follow the same themes as the other articles, but it’s inclusion was necessary. This is article briefly discusses how Yahoo was once the king of search engines when using the world wide web was a new phenomenon. Yahoo was the catalyst to other search engines such as Bing and Google that would ultimately eclipse Yahoo in popularity. Within the article there was a blub about Yahoo’s first directory floating around on the world wide web, still accessible and sort of a relic of how the internet previously looked and a testament to how search engines were once powered by humans, not computerized algorithms. Yahoo is an example of how past search engines operated, and how search engines have evolved over time.

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