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January 15, 2008

On naming metadata standards

In the UK we often say that a service or product "does exactly what it says on the tin" which, as Wikipedia explains, stems from  a set of UK TV adverts for Ronseal woodstains that have run since 1994 and which means that it is obvious from the label what something is going to do for you.

The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) seems to insist on using non-obvious names for some of its standards, the latest being the Singapore Framework (or The Singapore Framework for Dublin Core Application Profiles to give it its full title - though I'm sure that the abbreviated form will get used more often).

This is not the first time that place names have worked their way into DCMI terminology - the others being the Dublin Core itself (obviously!) and the Warwick Framework (which I'll leave as an exercise for those of you not in the know to find out about - though I will note that the middle 'w' in Warwick was often mispronounced).  These names are great for those in the know - especially those who attended the original meeting from which the name emerged.  But I'm not sure they help the rest of us much?

Might it not be better to say exactly what a standard does on the tin?

I suppose one could argue that DCMI have done that in the longer form of the name - though as I mention above, it seems to me that the short form is likely to get used more often.  Furthermore, slightly quirky names, arguably, help make something distinctive and allow an "in the know" community to form around the name.  This probably happened with the use of Dublin in Dublin Core, particularly in the early days.

I'm less clear that it is helpful at this stage, not least because it is hard to imagine a community forming around the notion of a framework for metadata application profiles! :-)  But, hey, you never know!?


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Thanks they did not meet in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, the Welsh village with the longest name in the world!

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