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Description & Power: How Does Metadata Shape Our Society?
June 25, 2022 at 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm EDT
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Do you remember library card catalogs? What if our entire world were represented in library card catalogs? Join librarian Jay L. Colbert to discuss the role metadata plays in our daily lives, and the power it gives to people, institutions, and systems.
“Metadata is data about data.”
“Metadata is the sum total of what one can say at a given moment about any information object.”
Now we’re getting somewhere.
In this salon, we’ll explore how everything is an information object, including us. From our driver’s license to YouTube videos documenting the transitions of transgender people, there are endless things to say about us and our world.
But that includes the data governments and corporations like Meta and Google mine from us and sell to advertisers. It includes the names colonizers force onto indigenous and enslaved people. It includes the removal and even destruction of queer stories in our libraries, archives, and museums.
How does metadata create our identities and interests? How does metadata obfuscate our understanding of history? How does metadata give people power over us?
- Jay’s speaker notes from his presentation Describing Absence: The Complicated Power of Metadata Surrogates in Libraries and Archives
- The Wikipedia article on Metadata (seriously, it’s good)
- Weird Kids’ Videos and Gaming the Algorithm
- Digital Items are Only as Good as Their Metadata
- Metadata = Surveillance
- Metacrap: Putting the torch to seven straw-men of the meta-utopia
- Sandy Berman: The Making of a Radical Librarian