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Teaching and Learning Multimodal Communications

Alyssa Arbuckle, Alison Hedley, Shaun Macpherson, Alyssa McLeod, Jana Millar Usiskin, Daniel Powell, Jentery Sayers, Emily Smith, Michael Stevens, Authors

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Challenging Metadata

This prompt was likely the most time-consuming and difficult one we tackled during the semester. I believe this is partially because we are accustomed, as literary researchers, to thinking of metadata as a type of "background noise" that is simply always in place. And, as a large number of our resources are housed at academic institutions, archives, and libraries, this is usually the case.

However, this exercise brought me into contact with digital resources "in the wild," so to speak. Content such as the YouTube video "Medieval English Helpdesk" lack well-reasoned metadata; materials I created myself—such as the two images derived from PDF facsimiles of Herbert's and Udall's texts—present their own unique problems with regards to metadata creation. The replicability and portability of digital resources, especially, raise questions about the efficacy of metadata schemes that seemingly collapse differences into a single set of identifying characteristics. As discussed in the prompt on granulation, electronic materials, although they may appear identical, are materially different. The same code on two different hard drives in fact represents two different works of cultural production, even if differing only in chronological order of production. As literary theorists, issues of variation in editions, source texts, and the like are well documented in the realm of bibliographic study; similar ways of theorizing, recording, and discussion electronic works are in their infancy.

Author: Daniel Powell
Word Count: 226
This page comments on:
Investigating Metadata and Archival Resources (9 July 2013)
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