The new reality

I wrote last week to describe the metadata workshop that Laura Dawson and I presented on Thursday at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Laura and I were also invited by Mark Dressler to spend a half hour on Thursday answering questions tied to the theme, "When will we STOP talking about metadata?"

Dressler had organized a series of public discussions as part of the Sparks Stage program that took place in Hall 8. The program featured people talking about topics that were generally more interesting than metadata, but Laura and I gave it a go.

The audience for that session included Publishers Weekly's Calvin Reid, who captured much of the conversation in his piece, "Metadata: The Whack-A-Mole of Book Discoverability". In the title, Reid picks up on a phrase that Laura used to explain how hard it is to fix metadata once it is out in the universe.

Over the course of the half hour, Laura and I were able to return to several points made during the morning workshop:

  • Content abundance makes complete and relevant metadata a vehicle for discovery and evaluation
  • Metadata will only grow in importance over time
  • Updating metadata will become a competitive weapon and a process that does not end
  • Roles will blend, and everyone involved in creating, managing and selling content will have a role in managing metadata

I was lucky to have a couple of chances in Frankfurt to work with Laura on this topic. Before the Sparks Stage interview, I described Laura as "the Queen of Metadata; I'm something akin to the Crown Prince". We've worked together a number of times on projects that included the use of XML in book publishing and workflow redesign for a smaller education publisher, and I learn new things every time we connect.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.