Hey, I Learned Something! Part 2: What can go awry with metadata crosswalks

We all knew I’m a fool for lists, right? It didn’t take much to figure that out; I put one in every post!  And so, to help with takeaway in case you didn’t read it, is my main “learning” from our week’s readings on crosswalks, in short form: What sorts of misalignment can occur with crosswalks, from Woodley’s Crosswalks, Metadata Harvesting, Federated Searching, Metasearching: Using Metadata to Connect Users and Information.

  1. Close, but not quite: The new element is better than the other possibilities, but it has just a bit of an “off” taste.
  2. It all looks one-to-one now:  Your local metadata was used for both the surrogate and the original in a single record, and the new mapping has mooshed it all together.
  3. Mapped to multiples: Your old element could go here, or it could go there.  Okay, let’s be honest, we mean that sometimes it looks horrible in this new element, and sometimes it looks horrid in the other new element, and there’s no way to automate it so you don’t look like a moron half the time.
  4. Cram it all in one box:  The opposite of 3, in which you have multiple fields, and they all map to parts of the new element, and the new element is not repeatable, and you either have to start programming (shyeah, right), or you’ll just cram it all in somehow, which will make you look like a moron.
  5. Mapped to nothing:  It’s just not there in the new place.  Maybe it’s a note now?  Maybe it’s lost?
  6. Mapping the Tower of Babel:  Oh, wow, we’re all assuming the old metadata made sense!  No, no, no, this is real-world data, made by twenty people over fifty years using three major rule sets.  This crosswalk business is just the first time someone (you) was forced to care about that fact.
  7. Driving the other way on the one-way street: Wait, we’re not just ditching the old data?  We want to share with the new-data world?  So every problem we had just became two problems.  Lovely.
  8. No, just no (but yes, if you like your job): These are really, really different metadata schemes.  They just barely map.  You’re working to translate English to sloth squeaks and back, and all of your new English records just say “Hey!”
Hey, I Learned Something! Part 2: What can go awry with metadata crosswalks

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