Seth Maislin writing on the Earley Associates blog discusses the role of indexing (for books and publications) and how a ‘Cloud’ based approach where end users contribute to produce the index may provide a method for publishers to continue to index titles. He also considers how manual indexing is disappearing in favour of automated metadata techniques which are frequently sub-standard in comparrison with human produced indexes:
“There is just too much information to index by hand, period. Books, periodicals, websites, blogs, messages, and documents are being produced or transformed too quickly for humans to keep pace, regardless of training and tools. Perhaps in response, the use of search algorithms becomes ever more popular, while overly optimistic expectations of retrieval quality grows increasingly preposterous. A more realistic response would be an increase in subject indexers’ fees — after all, demand is outpacing supply at an astounding rate — but indexers haven’t experienced a rate increase since the 1990s. The truth is that editorial indexing and all smart hands-on tagging is disappearing in favor of automatic approximations. And it is a reasonable argument that the substandard tagging of millions of pages and documents is better than leaving most of them without any subject metadata whatsoever.” [Read More]
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