Category Archives: Information Science

The Mechanical Turkish Librarian?

There’s a bitter-sweet sensation that I’ve encountered periodically throughout my life when I discover that an idea I’ve had in the past for a product or service has become reality — but that someone else has made it a reality. I’m sure many other people have experienced this same feeling.

It happened again this week when I discovered the existence of a New York-based start-up called

These folks have created a service that leverages Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service (a “micro outsourcing” service which matches businesses that need “Human Intelligence Tasks” completed with a network of digital “piece workers”) to address a challenge that I’ve been involved with for many years — adding metadata to digital images to make them more discoverable.

It will be interesting to see what the quality of the tagging is like, since Tagasauris is using non-professional cataloguers, whereas I’ve always worked with qualified librarians that have a deep understanding of cataloguing rules, classification schemes and controlled vocabularies. Tagasauris claims to have a sophisticated quality assurance engine to maintain a high quality of tagging.

It will also be interesting to see if they can make the service financially sustainable once the start-up funding runs out, of course!

I will be keeping an eye on them to see if “my” idea turns out to be a good one.

Introduction to Metadata, 3rd edition

Introduction to Metadata, Online Edition, version 3 is finally available on the Getty’s website.

It contains essays by Tony Gill, Anne J. Gilliland, Maureen Whalen, and Mary S. Woodley, and was expertly edited by Murtha Baca.

I’m glad this has finally come out, because I completely rewrote my essay, Metadata and the Web, back in 2006, with another update in 2007 — but this field moves so fast, I was worried that the whole essay would become out of date before it was even published!

The paperback version (somewhat confusingly referred to as the Second Edition, as there was an online-only update in between print updates) has been available for a few months now, and can be ordered from the Getty’s website for $30.

Introduction to Metadata - Cover

Introduction to Metadata: Pathways to Digital Information, Cover illustration from 2nd print edition.