Thursday, January 31, 2013

metametametadata

This week my internship has definitely gone from normal mode to hard mode. Tuesday I began to dig into different types of semantic web languages and spent a lot of time searching the Society of American Archivist site for articles about Encoded Archival Description (EAD). Despite the articles that told me what it could do for me, I couldn't find too much on how to get it to work for me. There's a lot of information out there about it, but not many tutorials that a student can get access to. I don't have $650 to attend a seminar on it in June.

This, my friends, is where networking comes in. Several months ago I began to attend a professional meetup for digital archivists hosted by Library of Congress. For the last two months I've started talking with someone who works at LC, and while talking about using Web 2.0 tools in networking we started following each other on Twitter. At the time it occurred to me that it was nice to meet someone at LC who seemed human rather than overwhelmingly intimidating. While I cognitively know that everyone at LC is human, I still find them rather daunting. Because, you know, Library of Congress. While looking into EAD, I thought it might be a good idea to see if anyone on their sub-committee could point me in the direction of learning materials. Whose name do I see on the list but the very man from the meetup! Long story short, I now have a list of web sites, groups, documents and other resources as well as general encouragement. Networking doesn't help you hurdle difficulties, but it can give you the ability to ask for tools with which to hurdle said hurdles.

Today I spent time learning about PBCore, which is a language that uses XML to make sense of metadata. While I haven't spent any time coding in the last ten years apart from a web design class at UMA in 2007, I can still decipher the language. It's been a while, to say the least. My supervisor has provided me with some printouts to study, and as I like to deconstruct and piece things back together, I'm glad to have something I can write on and mark up (no pun intended) as I like. As I get a better grasp on PBCore I'll write some more about it, but at the moment I don't quite have the understanding to do too much explaining. If you're curious to learn more, I recommend checking out the official training materials. For those in my library program - it's like if MARC and HTML had a really detailed metababy. Essentially it's a different way of expressing the information that would normally be shown in MARC.

I didn't expect to be getting into coding during my internship, but I couldn't be happier. In my classes it's becoming more and more evident that these tech skills are important to have, and I'm thrilled to be in a place that gives me reason to learn them.

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