Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Metadata Matters!

Baseball team, Eymard Seminary, Suffern, N.Y. (LOC)

This is a picture of the Eymard Seminary baseball team from Suffern, New York, taken sometime between 1890 and 1910. Eymard scored a run in the 12th inning to win the game.

The only reason I know this stuff (except the winning run part; that's obvious) about a photo taken over 100 years ago is metadata.

It drives me crazy when I'm at thrift stores, and I find a basket of awesome old photos but there is nothing written on the back. No names, no dates, no information about what the photo is of. I mean, part of it's fun, because you can make up your own stories about the people in the photos (what, you don't do that?), but it's mostly frustrating.

The metadata class I'm taking right now is revealing to me the importance of accurate labeling. Not only for the purpose of recall and ease of use, but for posterity. It's especially important in today's digital age, where we have photo file names like DSC012894. So not descriptive! So not helpful for finding that photo or explaining to our great-great-grandchildren what it's a photo of. I don't want to be cursed by future generations for failing to properly label and tag my files!

Another MLIS candidate in my program has a great post on her blog about personal digital preservation, including labeling your files with appropriate metadata. Check it out! It's definitely inspired me to do some work on my own files.

All this talk about metadata also makes me think about how I tag my blog posts, and how I search for things online. I'd like to just snap my fingers (I can't not link to this. I tried, and I can't.) and have everything in the whole world labeled nicely. I guess that can't happen. But I can do my part!

How do you feel about metadata? (Easily the nerdiest question ever blogged.) Do you care about labels and tags?


  1. Aren't old photos just the best? I have some I've been meaning to post too. Oh, and I nominated you for a blogger appreciation award, since I think your blog is just awesome. Cats! Books! :)

    1. Aww, thanks! You're too kind! And yes, I love old photos. It's so interesting to think that these were just regular people, living their lives, just like me! They look so different, but they're really not!