Dublin Core

Well, I guess I should be happy that Omeka uses Dublin Core, rather than one of the other more confusing metadata methods that our guest speaker from the library discussed a few weeks ago.  It seems relatively easy to use, especially after the reading- just basically fill in the blanks.  It’s a nice universal and uniform way to organize information holdings into a collection, and is certainly a much better fit for digital history than the older, traditional methods (like CONSULS, for instance).

However, Dublin Core, and probably most other forms of metadata for that matter, are still designed by librarians, not historians.  Some collections contain mostly books, periodicals, and other more common formats, but what about some of the unusual artifacts and sources that historians often come across?  Maybe some librarians would disagree, but I think it would be kind of difficult to fit some letters, posters, and other non-traditional primary sources into most metadata programs- even Dublin  Core.  Although, to be fair, I suppose no program that tries to be as all-encompassing and universal as Dublin Core could possible be able to properly include every type of source known to historians.  Some things are just odd balls I guess.

Even with some of the sources I have been trying to put into Omeka through Dublin Core (and it seems this might be true for others as well), it feels like I’m trying to force a square peg down a round hole, in terms of information and data.

And, of course, then there’s the other problem which others have identified about the problems with html code and syntax.  Minute mistakes in data transfer can result in major errors with a final product.  Even one character can be off, and the whole source might disappear into the depths of the internet (at least to the average viewer).

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1 Comment

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One response to “Dublin Core

  1. Dublin Core is expressed using RDF; this is an approach designed to allow domain-specific extensions to be freely mixed together.

    So as a metadata language, I doubt you have a problem with Dublin Core as-such. Whether the Omeka system provides software tooling to let you exploit this expressiveness is another matter. I hadn’t heard of Omeka before stumbling across this post, but as far as I can see the limitations that concern you are with the Omeka software (http://omeka.org/) rather than Dublin Core, since that’s just an interchange standard. Or do I misunderstand?

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