In another life, i.e. the three years between my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, I spent some time working in the “real world”. This included 20 months working in information management (IM). In between trying to teach 40 year old men why they need to include a date in the file name and filing old paper records, I learnt all about the wonders of metadata.
Data about data.
That is basically what metadata is. But it is this data that allows us to find books (information) in the library because their title (metadata) has been catalogued (a form of management). And the same principle works with any information. A company’s archives need to be searchable but also stored safely. So we use it’s metadata to provide some order to how they are stored and to make sure we can find the ones we need easily and quickly.
This week I’ve been reading for seminar 2 in Digital Cultural Heritage (it’s finally started!). While reading the Digital Cultural Heritage Roadmap for Preservation, I was struck by how much of the preservation methods were effectively IM! They were encouraging the use of metadata to catalogue cultural heritage so that it could be stored safely but remain accessible. A basic element of information management!
So while I know there will be a lot (LOT) more to DCH than just managing information, it is interesting to see how much overlap there is. This only reaffirms my belief that, far from wiping out the information management professional, technology has made it even more imperative that we train up people who can manage information.
Museums and galleries need IM as much as businesses do.