4 thoughts on “Meditation on Metadata

  1. Yes! This is exactly what I argued in my dissertation (p. 39):

    I’ve argued that organizers of documents in libraries, museums and archives engage in procedures of conceptualization that resemble, and are in fact continuous with, the procedures of conceptualization engaged in by history scholars. As these procedures involve more and more synthesis and explicit construction of interpretative viewpoints, they are increasingly likely to be perceived as history-as-practice. Conversely, the more these procedures seem limited to selection and description, the more likely they are to be characterized as organizational practice. But the differences are ones of degree and not of kind.

    A “a humanistic conceptualizing of data and metadata” is what I started trying to develop in that dissertation, and is what I continue to try to articulate. This is what draws me to the “digital humanities”: not a sense that the humanities needs information science so much as a the sense that information science needs the humanities. Or rather, it needs to recover the humanistic aspects it once had and lost in its drive to “scientize” itself.


  2. PS Have you looked at Francis X. Blouin Jr. and William G. Rosenberg’s Processing the Past: Contesting Authorities in History and the Archives (http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/HistoryOther/?view=usa&ci=9780199740543). I thought they also started to get at this question. It’s going to be an important one, because it seems to me we need boundaries between data, metadata, and interpretation to be able to navigate the study of the past, but we also need those boundaries to be porous in productive ways. “Continuous”–that’s a nice word for it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *