3.2 Production

3.2.1 The rest of this chapter assumes that in most cases the audio files and the metadata files will be created and managed separately. In which case, metadata production involves logistics – moving information, materials and services through a network cost-effectively. However, a small scale collection, or an archive in earlier stages of development, may find advantages in embedding metadata in BWF and selectively populating a subset of the information described below. If done carefully, and with due understanding of the standards and schemas discussed in this chapter, such an approach is sustainable and will be migrate- able to a fully implemented system as described below. Though a decision can be made by an archive to embed all or some metadata within the file headers, or to manage only some data separately, the information within this chapter will still inform this approach. (See also Chapter 7 Small Scale Approaches to Digital Storage Systems).

3.2.2 Until recently the producers of information about recordings either worked in a cataloguing team or in a technical team and their outputs seldom converged. Networked spaces blur historic demarcations. Needless to say, the embodiment of logistics in a successful workflow also requires the involvement of people who understand the workings and connectivity of networked spaces. Metadata production therefore involves close collaboration between audio technicians, Information Technology (IT) and subject specialists. It also requires attentive management working to a clearly stated strategy that can ensure workflows are sustainable and adaptable to the fast-evolving technologies and applications associated with metadata production.

3.2.3 Metadata is like interest - it accrues over time. If thorough, consistent metadata has been created, it is possible to predict this asset being used in an almost infinite number of new ways to meet the needs of many types of user, for multi-versioning, and for data mining. But the resources and intellectual and technical design issues involved in metadata development and management are not trivial. For example, some key issues that must be addressed by managers of any metadata system include: Identifying which metadata schema or extension schemas should be applied in order to best meet the needs of the production teams, the repository itself and the users; Deciding which aspects of metadata are essential for what they wish to achieve, and how granular they need each type of metadata to be. As metadata is produced for the long-term there will likely always be a trade-off between the costs of developing and managing metadata to meet current needs, and creating sufficient metadata that will serve future, perhaps unanticipated demands; Ensuring that the metadata schemas being applied are the most current versions. Interoperability is another factor; in the digital age, no archive is an island. In order to send content to another archive or agency successfully, there will need to be commonality of structure and syntax. This is the principle behind METS and BWF.

3.2.4 A measure of complexity is to be expected in a networked environment where responsibility for the successful management of data files is shared. Such complexity is only unmanageable, however, if we cling to old ways of working that evolved in the early days of computers in libraries and archives –before the Web and XML. As Richard Feynman said of his own discipline, physics, 'you cannot expect old designs to work in new circumstances'. A new general set of system requirements and a measure of cultural change are needed. These in turn will permit viable metadata infrastructures to evolve for audiovisual archives.