Discussion Group 5: Metadata

Andy Powell and Amanda Boe facilitated a discussion group on “Metadata” at the IWMW 1997 event.

Andy Powell, UKOLN, chaired this discussion group. The reporter was Amanda Boe, University of Sussex. Fourteen participants attended this discussion group.

The subject area was new to several members of the discussion group, some of whom were unaware how of metadata was currently implemented – for example “How do search engines work – do they use metadata?”.

Everyone agreed that metadata was good in theory. The major question was “How do you implement it, especially in a distributed environment?” “Are there tools to help?” and  “Can it be automated?”

There were some sceptics about the immediate benefits of Dublin Core: Will big organisations use it? Will Alta Vista use it? This is felt to be a chicken and egg situation. It is suggested that we set up a small pilot e.g. use of Dublin Core within institutional home pages.

Several members of the discussion group carried out some exercises in searching for University prospectuses using Alta Vista. Most reported problems in searching – inappropriate search results (e.g. searching for Bath Prospectus gets “The Canterbury Tales”!), too many or too few hits.


  • Let’s use DC with UK HE Prospectuses and a UK search engine.
  • Let’s produce guidelines for management of metadata.