In an October 14th article in the New Yorker about the use of Artificial Intelligence to generate prose, John Seabrook wrote: “A recent exhibition on the written word at the British Library dates the emergence of cuneiform writing to the fourth millennium B.C.E., in Mesopotamia”. That got me thinking about some notes I once took on the early history of metadata, and I wondered if there was any scholarship to show that the earliest metadata is as old as the earliest writing. Not…

A schemaless computer database in 1965

To enable flexible metadata aggregation, among other things.

I’ve been reading up on America’s post-war attempt to keep up the accelerated pace of R&D that began during World War II. This effort led to an infrastructure that made accomplishments such as the moon landing and the Internet possible; it also led to some very dry literature, and I’m mostly interested in what new metadata-related techniques were developed to track and share the products of the research as they led to development.

Using the ontology editing tool SWOOP to edit taxonomies and thesaurii

Hopefully, as a more powerful open source alternative to existing taxonomy packages.

In the online course in taxonomy development that I took recently we reviewed several popular taxonomy development tools. I found them to be expensive or to have clunky, dated interfaces, and was disappointed that the formats most of these programs supported for storing saved work was either a binary proprietary format or what they just called “XML”. (I’m open to correction on any of these points.) “OK,” I wondered, “What XML?” Reviewing some samples of…

What is a taxonomy?

A standard definition.

There are many terms that people can’t agree on. The great thing about standards is that even when everyone doesn’t agree about definitions included in those standards, these definitions provide a common baseline for everyone to work from.