[whatwg] Creative Commons Rights Expression Language

Henri Sivonen hsivonen at iki.fi
Mon Sep 1 00:17:33 PDT 2008

On Sep 1, 2008, at 06:20, Karl Dubost wrote:

> Le 29 août 2008 à 23:04, Henri Sivonen a écrit :
>> Also, having more metadata leads to UI clutter and data entry  
>> fatigue that alienates users. In the past, I worked on a content  
>> repository project that failed because (among other things) the  
>> content upload UI asked for an insane amount (a couple of  
>> screenfuls back then; probably a screenful today) of metadata when  
>> it didn't occur to system specifiers to invest in full text search.  
>> More metadata isn't better. Instead, systems should ask for the  
>> least amount of metadata that can possibly work (when the metadata  
>> must be entered by humans as opposed to being captured by machines  
>> like EXIF data). See also
>> http://www.w3.org/QA/2008/08/the-digital-stakhanovite
> hehe. This was a-good-try-but-mischaracterization-from-the-ministry- 
> of-truth

That was uncalled for.

> to associate this article with the rants on metadata :) Let's clarify.

It's an excellent article. Thank you for writing it.

> What I explain in the article is not the volume of metadata, but the  
> volume of items and the context of usage.
>   1. Extract anything you can from the data itself (exif, iptc, xmp,  
> modifications, date)


It's sad how some systems ask the user for a title when the title is  
already in an HTML or PDF file but it never occurred to the specifiers  
of the system that files can actually be parsed. It even sadder to ask  
the user for keywords, because it never occurred to the specifiers of  
a system that full-text search has been invented.

>   2. Give a possibility in the UI to modify or add data.

Even the *possibility* to add costs UI real estate, so specifiers of a  
system should be very, very careful in what possibilities they offer.

> In a business environment, you might have to give metadata about a  
> work. I do it in my every day job. I give titles to my emails, I put  
> comments in my cvs commits, etc. etc. These are all constraints. Not  
> adding the data would still work technically.

Sure. However, writing a string that appears in mailbox list view or  
in a list view of commits is the baseline of user-entered metadata.  
Everything else is something *more*.

Just because something happens in a business setting where people can  
be fired doesn't mean that more metadata is better. I've seen metadata  
fail even in the military where they thought they could *order* people  
to enter metadata (and where they have a more elaborate punishment  
structure than in an ordinary working environment).

> Having a UI cluttered with fields to enter is not a failure of  
> metadata, it is a failure of the project in the social and business  
> constraints of the project.

It's definitely a failure of the project in the social and business  
constraints. The reason for failure was a line of thought that went  
something like this:
Metadata is good. Therefore, let's have more of it. Let's model what  
can be said about the domain. We are in a position to require people  
to enter the metadata.

The process didn't try to seriously find out what the real must-have  
hard social and business constraints were.

My point is that "metadata is useful" isn't the whole story.

Henri Sivonen
hsivonen at iki.fi

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