it's the metadata, stupid // 29 Dec 2009

Ben Hammersley comes through with part two of his three part series on what needs to happen to magazine publishing to take advantage of digital distribution. The key? Metadata.

The necessity above all else of keeping your metadata might seem like a geeky affectation – something that is really only of interest to librarians (itself not a bad reason) or trainspotterish data-completists – but it is in fact the simplest and cheapest route for a publisher to future-proof their business.

And...

So why do everything you can to keep metadata intact? Because it’s from this information that new products can be automatically created, at a scale and rapidity that would be impossible otherwise. With every piece of metadata that you don’t throw away, you gain a factor more potential ways of slicing through your content and delivering it as a separate product, simply as a result of a database lookup.

See also Fred Wilson's post today, People First, Machines Second:

But 8tracks can now take the human intellligence that is contained in all of those playlists and do something interesting. They can have their machines go through all of them and create a 'best of best of' playlist. It could be just the most popular tracks across all of the best of 2009 playlists or it could be weighted by the times each playlist was played or it could be some other algorithm. My point is simple, if humans are doing the curation upfront, then you can turn the machines loose and get some interesting results.