Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Examples of great metadata?

Today, I am sitting in a metadata workshop at UNH run by Northeast Coastal and Ocean Data Partnership (formerly: Gulf of Maine Ocean Data Partnership) NeCODP... it's also their annual meeting. Back in January, I attended a Metavist metadata workshop put on at the Alaska Science Symposium by NBII's metadata folks.

I have been struggling for a long time with metadata. I have felt strongly that something is fundamentally wrong. I'm starting to feel that this is that we are missing examples that are held up to the community as best practices and examples of how this metadata is used. As Google has popularized, we need to dog food the metadata. And it has to be understandable by the 1st year graduate student, not just metadata experts!

So, what are example of best practices in ISO 19115 metadata (I consider FGDC metadata as dead and pointless for a global community). And it really sucks how closed the ISO standards are. So totally frustrating. Am I going to try to teach UML to new grad students? We need to be able to kickoff with metadata and get going in 15-30 minutes and UML is counter to this understanding in short time frames.

The keynote speaker is Ted Habermann who gave a fantastic talk. However, strongly disagree with Ted on a couple points. First is with the pay for standards model. We are not making light bulbs and the standards bodies are not paying us for our time writing these standards. Hiding software and data standards only degrades the ability of individuals to be empowered. Large companies like ESRI could care less one way or another about the costs, but it is up to us, the data producers and consumers to be empowered. It's getting way way too complicated! Ted's Metadata Standards page doesn't even cover a small fraction of the standards he talked about during his keynote. e.g. what is EML? He also mentioned UDDC - Unidata Data Discovery Conventions, NetCDF Markup Language (NcML), etc.

There has got to be something simpler, because with complexity comes increased error rates and all sorts of training problems. Can we use simpler strategies? e.g. Geodata Discovery and geo micro format

And to be different than the speaker, when it comes to researchers and especially graduate students, the do go to wikipedia to read multiple papes and you can make books out of groups of pages. Wikipedia:Books

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