Book Metadata – an Introduction

Part one of Anthony Finn's series of posts on data management which also includes
Metadata, Customer Data and Title Management Systems, Data Strategies in Academic Publishing and ISBNs – Vital or dying in e-publishing?

Data strategies and governance are vital to any publisher’s business. So it can be surprising how many publishers are resistant to establishing long-term policies to handle their metadata. We publish great books by amazing authors. Collecting and managing data is a boring and pretty unnecessary part of a publisher’s activity. Not an actual quote, but a sentiment expressed in one way or another by more than a few publishers I’ve worked with over the years. In this post I’d like to give a brief introduction to the topic of metadata and examine why data quality matters.

Who needs good data?

“Only four types of organisations need to worry about data quality:
Those that care about their customers
Those that care about profit and loss
Those that care about their employees
Those that care about their futures.”
Thomas C. Redman
Senior Consultant with Cutter Consortium

In a consumer world where books, movies, and newspapers are no longer on our bookshelves but in our pockets and handbags, metadata is king. Why? Because it’s the main way that readers find books.

[Read more...]

Digital mudlarking and too much TV – our changing relationship with social media

One of the things I like about a decent holiday, as well as chocolate and lie-ins, is that I get the time to notice what’s going on around me, and return to work with a fresh perspective.

Over the holidays I took my children to the Museum of London. They were offering a free ‘digital workshop’ on mudlarking so we signed up. We’re gluttons for anything free. It was brilliant. In the space of 45 minutes the kids got dressed up, photographed themselves on an iPad, and made a 30 second animation in which their Victorian selves found a small stone and a roman coin. They had a great time. So far, so tedious middle class anecdote. At the end of the workshop we emailed the film to ourselves for posterity. This prompted, from my eight year old daughter, an exasperated gasp of: ‘Oh my god don’t put it on Facebook, that would be sooo embarrassing.’

Both in publishing and in higher education, there’s a desire to future-gaze. The first crop of digital natives are currently at university, or perhaps just graduated. Their generation, to my mind, have caught the worst of social media. It was new to them, but also the teachers and organisations whose job it is to protect them. They are faced with destroying compromising photographs of their gap year in Thailand as they commence a competitive graduate job search. The generations that come after them are far more socially-media aware. If you’re reacting against Facebook in year 3 (that’s first year juniors to us olds, and 4th grade to our American readers) won’t you also be pretty aware at eighteen?

[Read more...]