When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, BookNet Canada cancelled our annual Tech Forum conference and its planned three days of professional development and networking for publishing professionals. We’ve worked diligently with many of the event’s planned speakers and have been scheduling webinars and posting recorded videos of their sessions to reach our audience members as we all #StayHome.
As Tech Forum’s planner and principal programmer, one speaker I look forward to every year is my colleague, Tom Richardson. Tom is the Bibliographic Manager at BookNet Canada and the Canadian publishing industry’s Yoda-like figure on all things bibliographic standards. A friend to all ONIX producers and users, Tom’s Tech Forum presentations are always insightful, a touch funny, and get to the heart of the work that we do not only at BookNet, but in the larger publishing industry when we work with bibliographic standards to get the right book into the right reader’s hands at the right time (ICYMI: his 2020 standards roundup presentation). Not only will Tom make you think: he’ll make you work harder, better, and with improved intentionality.
It was with this in mind, that I asked him to deliver a dedicated session exploring his recent thoughts about metadata: not just the how but the why? In typical Tom fashion, he mulled and returned with an instant classic — what I’m henceforth referring to as #TomTalks: a presentation, nay, a thought experiment asking What is quality in metadata?
In this presentation (which will take you less time to watch than it will to proof that first dutch oven bread you decided to make while physically distancing at home) Tom looks at three issues on the top of his mind when he thinks about metadata today: benchmarking, keywords, and “Canada” as a distinct market. These are three big ideas and Tom unravels them beautifully in this presentation:
“The publishing industry regularly reinforces a belief that it’s normal for end users to use data badly and that it’s up to the rest of us to design our business communications around their limitations. It’s an attitude that leads to benchmarking against minimal metadata support rather than maximizing a book’s discovery potential.
This quixotic presentation will try to change that attitude. The best data, the data that can drive diversity and discovery, will appear on far less than 10% of the entries in a data aggregation across a supply chain. The trick is many books, likely well over 30%, need the actionable support of one or two of those far-less-than-10% subtle data points.”
Join Tom on his journey through the wilds of metadata and emerge as the best data supplier or recipient you can be.
Tom’s slides are available here.
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