👓 Classical music metadata | Imani Mosley

Replied to Classical music metadata by Imani Mosley (Imani Mosley)

This metadata project came about in a very practical fashion: NPR's in-house music database has a legacy file naming convention for its art music back from when it was digitizing LPs and moving from a physical collection to an online one. I won't go too much into why the system exists as it does but what's important to know is that it is as anachronistic as possible. There is very little connection between it and any other "standard" and makes it nearly impossible to discover anything as the search is exact rather than flexible. So being good librarians, we want to fix it. Making that statement was the easy part.

What followed was a very intense meeting in which my supervisor and I went through the pros and cons of various metadata & cataloging systems (our in-house database, iTunes, and others). There were far more cons than pros. It gave us a lot to consider and some things we could put in place but still left an uneasy feeling.

Imani, I didn’t see a comment box on your website and it doesn’t appear to support the Webmention spec yet, so I’ll post my reply on my site (something I’d do anyway) and send you a ping via Twitter.

I can’t help but thinking that this may be a potential use case for microformats. I notice there’s already some useful pages and research on music and even sheet music on their website.

If nothing else, I’d recommend that you or others delving into the process of looking at music metadata try to emulate the process behind what microformats are and how they work. I think it’s highly useful to take an overview of what and how people are already doing things in real life situations, figure out common patterns, and then documenting them to make the overall scope of work potentially smaller as well as to indicate a best path forward. Many companies will have created proprietary formats and methods which are likely to be highly incompatible or described, but not actually implemented in actual practice. (Hint: avoid unimplemented suggestions at all costs.) Your small polling sample already indicates a lot of variability, and I suspect your poll is very biased give people who would most likely be following your account.

A good starting point for answering your problem might be to do a bit of reading on microformats and then asking questions in the microformat community’s online chat. I suspect there are several people in the community who have done large-scale work on the web and categorization who might be able to help you out as well as point you in the direction of prior art and others who are working on these problems.

If you need help in understanding some of the microformats material, I’m happy to help you out via phone or online video chat and introduce you to some folks in the area.

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