2 thoughts on “On Metacrap”

  1. I don’t think Cory’s piece was dead on when he wrote it, any more than it is now. It is in itself a series of strawmen, implying that people that believed who metadata to be useful insisted on it being 100% pure and accurate. Not so then, not so now. He generally paints metadata in a bad light, but the arguments…well, how about “In meta-utopia, the lab-coated guardians of epistemology sit down and rationally map out a hierarchy of ideas, something like this:” – he proceeds to display the flaws of such an approach. There are no “lab coated guardians”, or at least none that are mapping such hierarchies who are unaware of the problems raised. Straw. Man.

    The problem was that a lot of people seemed to accept the arguments of the piece at face value, and personally I encountered increased resistance to the notion of metadata having value (in the context of RDF). It’s taken a while for systems like del.icio.us to appear that make really obvious counterpoints to Cory’s thesis, but it was bound to happen. Just seems like good ideas got pushback based on mythology.

    An interesting way of reading the piece is to drop the “meta” part of “metadata” wherever it’s used. Pretty much all the points he makes on the lousiness of metadata apply equally well to data. Yet that stuff seems to be very useful. So I recommend dropping the “Meta” from the title to get a more accurate description of the content.

    While I’m ranting….I don’t understand why you suggest folksonomic and Semantic Web approaches “strictly speaking shouldn’t work” together. Seems like a match made in heaven to me.

    See also: http://www.holygoat.co.uk/projects/tags/

  2. This sounds like something I have been telling people to watch for since tagging first hit the radar screen– tagging is the first step. Algorithmic clusters are a nice second step. But the real fruit will come when the linkages, filters, and predictors go multiple layers deep– not just on connections, but on behaviors. If people don’t see this it’s no surprise that they don’t see how fantastically able such systems can be in the future and feel that tagging will eventually just lead to a big, fractious mess.

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