Tuesday, August 09, 2005

My Summer Vacation to the FANTOM PLANET: Metadata - Revisited

So, here I am. Still stuck in crap-hole Metadata on FANTOM PLANET. But wait! Who could that be yonder? James & Stefan! Ok. So we're here talking this week about metadata. Metadata for a GIS. Metadata for Google Earth. Metadata for MSN Virtual Earth. Metadata for ArcWebServices. Metadata for the indexing of the world's largest pencil collection in Bismarck, North Dakota. Man, this is Meta-Da-Ta. Someone cares, but not enough to pay attention. They're too poor to pay attention. Ok. I won't quit my day job. Or, they don't realize that they've been to Metadata until it was the last stop for gas fifty miles back. Those of us who are savvy to understand Metadata, and those who create it, know that it's a thankless job. Hell, who would want to write three million library card catalog index cards anyhow? Let alone, create electronic ones. No one sees it. No one cares. And when they do, and you're laughing at them, it's too late for them. They're hosed. All because they didn't pay attention to what was in the metadata. Example: At the ESRI UC, I spoke with the Chicago Police Department in the homeland security area of the exhibit hall and asked what they thought of chicagocrime.org. They gave me the reluctant slow "meh." Alluding to a comment that the developer had to manually do something with the data from the CPD's RSS feed, which threw it off and made it inaccurate to a degree. Not temporally, but spatially. Now, how would you ever know that unless you knew the masher? He certainly didn't have metadata that we think of when building a GIS database. Of course, I haven't looked for any other disclaimers his site either. Then there's the NavTeq and imagery metadata that Google uses. How do you know about that? And same for information behind MSN Virtual Earth? The key is you don't. Because, one) you didn't care in the first place. Two) You're ignorant of what metadata is. And three), you accepted the risk involved with tossing all of your marbles on the spatial and temporal accuracy of data you know nothing about. I'm not saying that those who use "slippy maps" are selfish, ignorant, crazy people. Just that the General Population didn't take Geography 271: Map Reading & interpretation, or, GIS 474: Introduction to GIS. And that we shouldn't care as geographic information professionals whether they did or not. Slippy maps are to help the uneducated and to link information to tell a story. Read my last post. This tirade is about ourselves as professionals. We understand what metadata is. The mashers may not, but I bet that they are willing to learn as they ask for more data and look to create better tools. For the time being, let us mash away-away-away-a-away-a-way--a--way! Preparing for the day that Metadata is the exclusive high-end tourist spot of the FANTOM PLANET. With James and Stefan now here... it kind of is? (Holy crap, is this ever a doozy!?!)

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