I am now, apparently, the “metadata guy.”  In the middle of a great couple of weeks focusing on the role of metadata in the entertainment and information industries I had the honor to support the Women in Technology Hollywood (WiTH) at its luncheon in Century City along with my colleague Diane Burley. WiTH is actively addressing the factors behind the very lopsided gender balance in tech and the topic of the luncheon panel was developing and curating your personal brand. This is a mix of understanding how other people see you and your own goals and image. In the context of women in technology, its a very powerful lesson for everyone and served as a great platform for the wider discussion that I think about as the “reasonable workplace culture” movement and the overall advocacy for women needed to make a difference in the technology world.

Taking this to heart, I decided to start off my talk at the Smart Content Summit event that followed the luncheon with my own personal brand. Mary Yukovic of MESAlliance convinced me into giving a talk, running a panel and also getting MarkLogic to sponsor the event by telling me that when the MESAlliance team were talking about the idea of Smart Content and metadata, everyone kept saying “You need to get Matt from MarkLogic,” and “Matt is the guy you need to talk to.”  With that feedback, I took a look at my own goals and went with fully embracing it – yes, in the context of the media and entertainment industry, my brand is indeed “The Metadata Guy!”  In a hat tip to Mary, I added that if you are in the industry and you say “metadata, metadata, metadata” I just might show up!

Here is why I’m proud to be the metadata guy:

  • The impact of metadata has never been greater. Guy Finley, Exec Director of MESAlliance and the mastermind behind the Smart Content event, said that metadata is now the critical factor in making content smart from “Inception to Infinity.” There is now a continuum of metadata and understanding of its value at the very start of an idea or concept all the way through to the production, distribution, archiving and re-use and now to the new unexpected uses we all know are coming but can’t plan for today. I think we’ll see more of this theme – maybe Metadata: To Infinity and Beyond?
  • The affect of the current situation of data silos, single purpose metadata systems that only have part of the picture and rights and permissioning as a separate silo is gaining more and more visibility. Part of the discussion at the event was around a business case for adoption of solutions to address this and the little bit of pain felt by every part of an organization to work around these silos is getting a lot of visibility. The top line is now being impacted by the “death by 100 paper cuts” of extra time and effort across the organization to work around these systems and the scale of the digital business is quickly going to grow beyond the use of staff or interns to plug the gaps. We had a chance to see a visualization of the data sharing that happens for a single show that Box put together – it should be terrifying to anyone trying to control costs, manage security and rationalize the modern production process.
  • New technical approaches are making a huge difference. My main discussion was about ways to make content smarter and metadata more effective by leveraging the schema flexibility of NoSQL to liberate asset records from rows and columns and the game changing, world organizing, capabilities of semantics to go beyond categories and taxonomies. This approach not only lets you capture the richness of the metadata including the use specific metadata that each part of the organization needs, but also is a more efficient way to manage the information.

I am really excited about this! My Terrible Joke ™ for the metadata talk was that I tried to find a picture of a writer adding metadata . . . but we don’t think one exists! (in case you are wondering I have a Terrible Joke for every talk – don’t get me started on the cheese jokes – lets just say they can leave a lot of d’Brie). This turned into one of the big discussion points because writers and other content originators do create and use a lot of metadata – its just not usable to the other systems and so a lot of effort goes into recreating or recapturing it once the work is finished. What if there was a model that could adapt to both needs? What if the authors could have tools that were invisible to them but were actually linking works to worlds, character and ideas (examples of ontologies) and then production and distribution would do the same? This system would also need to look like the current situation – one of the best comments about the current state was that people actually like the silos and file systems. They make sense to the task-focused users and I think the new model can let everyone have it both ways. We can make the task-specific tools, we can respect security and make things as easy as file systems, but we can actually be doing holistic metadata management – from inception to infinity as well.

I’m looking forward to the next round of talks about semantics and metadata at the Henry Stewart DAM show next week. I’m sure I’ll learn something new and get even more excited about the solutions we’re making possible.

And remember, if you need to talk about metadata, just say “metadata, metadata, metadata” and I just might show up! But, just to be sure, a tweet or email is always a good idea.

Yours truly,

Matt Turner

The Metadata Guy

On my way home from LA, the home of metadata!

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