Ruben Verborgh and Seth van Hooland of Free University Brussels (ULB) have launched a demonstration site based on Google Refine that aims to show irregular or imperfect metadata can become more valuable even if released rather than holding on to it in order to ‘perfect’ the data. They are interviewed in the “Fresh & Newer” section of Powerhousemuseum.com. This is their answer to the question: “Why do you think museums (and other organisations) have such difficulties doing simple things like making their metadata available? Is there a confusion between metadata and ‘images’ maybe?”
“There is a lot of confusion about what the best way is to make metadata available. One of the goals of the Free Your Metadata initiative, is to put forward best practices to do this. Institutions such as libraries and museums have a tradition to only publish information which is 100% complete and correct, which is more or less impossible in the case of metadata.” [Read More]
I must agree with this sentiments behind “Free Your Metadata”, there is strong motivation for academics in particular to not release data stores because the owners fear it will reflect badly on them. Opening the data up and using tools like Google Refine enables a wider user base to gain access to potentially highly valuable data stores and also provides some opportunity for crowd-sourcing techniques to be used to fill the gaps where funding and resources are unavailable. Providing the original metadata remains accessible in its unadulterated form then this should be a positive force for open access to metadata.
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