Article Summary #3: Metacrap

Metacrap by Cory Doctorow

Great read!  Unfortunately it is kind of true…

Metadata is data about data, and (on a very basic level) it is encoded in documents and web pages to make them searchable. But there are some problems inherent in metadata creation.

  1. People lie for their own benefit (to get you to read their stuff/ buy their product)
  2. People are lazy (guilty on this one)
  3. People are stupid (spelling, punctuation, grammar)
  4. People don’t know themselves
  5. Schemas aren’t neutral – competing interests
  6. Metrics influence results
  7. There’s more than one way to describe something


Alas, Meta-utopia doesn’t exist, and info-ninjas can’t fix J. Random User’s mistakes.


Doctorow argues that Google’s use of implicit metadata, how many links point to a page and who linked it, is more reliable than human created metadata.  It seems to me that good metadata would beat Google any day.



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