Nov 08

XML, OAC, RDF, JSON-LD and the king stood: the universe is metadata

The Open Annotation Collaboration published a data model in February that should be recognized as disruptive. JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data whose 1.0 specifications landed November 5th (Tuesday) is another in a cluster of W3C standards that show digital objects are beginning to exist as real things that try to completely represent tangible artifacts and not simply a new whizbang-computery way to offer a limp reference to something real.

Markup, I insist, was the necessary jolt to encourage machine readable encoding. XML is a convenient vehicle to bridge relational tools and linked open data(LOD) (or any triple), but the weight limit of RDF-XML has been exceeded. The standards for annotation are necessary for interoperability and the exposure/discovery of LOD, but is also a very useful way to work with offline, local, or private/siloed data.

I am able to share experience with OAC and the manuscript-focused children of OAC, SharedCanvas and IIIF. These standards were emerging as the transcription tool T-PEN was being completed – it has allowed us to include features that were previously unplanned and filled me with healthy discontent at its completeness. Our current project, a tool for the complete creation of digital editions (focusing on manuscripts) makes heavy use of these standards and is dangerously near spawning a few of its own.

I would like to learn about other efforts in annotation, especially in fields outside of manuscripts. What already exists, what is in flux, and has this shift impacted the way you organize data?

At the very least, I would like to debate whether annotation is a fad or there is a real possibility that markup will get out of the way and we may be left with a single pristine artifact that takes the universe as its metadata.

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