[OAI-implementers] Re: Reconsidering mandatory DC in OAI-PMH

Bob Donahue Bob Donahue <bob_donahue@wgbh.org>
06 Aug 2003 08:32:33 -0400

Our problem is that the requirement of unqualified Dublin Core causes 
the metadata to be EXTREMELY INACCURATE to the point of it almost rendering
our reporting useless.  My frustration is that I feel "stuck" in a 
schema that wasn't built to be extendable and that doesn't (apparently)
have a way to self-correct to handle situations where items don't fit
the limited preconceived notion of what items were expected to be in a
particular repository without resorting to a "bash the square peg into
the round hole anyway" approach.

In our repository, many of the digital assets are video.  However due to 
extreme short-sightedness on some group's part, video isn't included in the
list of media formats and is deprecated to "image".  So, anyone finding
our collection through (for example) the NSDL gets the first impression
that we're a collection of still images and a few documents.   This hinders
our efforts considerably.  I don't think anyone would say this isn't a
fundamental problem.

Furthermore, the list of elements in *unqualified* DC is insufficient to
adequately describe digital assets, particularly multimedla.  My intent
has been to "just" support oai_dc because I had to, then find a metadata
format that actually works.  Dumping oai_dc for either a "new and improved"
version (i.e., one that permits higher accuracy in descriptions) or 
another default metadata system is preferable to clinging to an outmoded
system that's already obsolete and a poor fit to the contents of many
repositories.   Along with the addage "if it ain't broke, don't fix it"
should be inscribed "if it doesn't work, DON'T CLING TO IT ANYWAY".  :-)

I guess the way to placate both camps (or leave them equally frustrated)
would be to create an "extended" oai_dc replacement within which "classic" oai_dc will work without alteration.  The extensions would provide the
means to extend the metadata to encompass new media types (and several
older ones), and more freedom to make changes in the future.  I can't
see a standards using DC working without qualifications, myself.

Bob Donahue
WGBH Interactive

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