6.2 Would an aggregation of metadata for images, films and sounds be used?


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6.2.1 Who do you think the principal users of an aggregation of metadata would be?

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Most understood a ‘user’ to mean someone using an interface onto the metadata aggregation. Most respondents considered Higher and Further Educational institutions to be the principal users of an aggregation, followed by collection owners and non-commercial service developers (multiple responses were allowed). There does not appear to be a correlation between the stakeholder type and their view of the principal users of an aggregation of metadata, i.e. all stakeholder types appear to follow the same pattern.
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Some of the questionnaire respondents said that the general public would be users. The fact that the general public might be users was also highlighted in a number of interviews, including with one large collection owner. Two interviewees responded that researchers would be users, including private research and historians. Further users of an aggregation of metadata about images and time-based media were: charities, independent artists and filmmakers, arts institutions, professional academic organisations and users searching for items in collections.
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Those describing users as other services or service providers included several suggesting that aggregators may be users i.e. if one aggregation provides a feed to another such as Europeana.
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One interviewee suggested that non-commercial service providers would be principal users of such an aggregation because JISC would probably fund development of such services thus stimulating this interest. S/he commented also that commercial service developers should have access because they are better placed to resource developments i.e. they will take risks to develop services that ultimately benefit the HE and FE community as well as others. S/he acknowledged that some stakeholders within HE are loathe to share with commercial organisations but noted that the open access community has learned, over the last 10 years, that exposing metadata and content is not enough to ensure that services are developed onto that content. A viable business model is also required. Any commercial organisation that believes it can create a viable service onto open metadata occupies a role that is valuable to all. A second interviewee represented the view that resources created within HE with HE funding should not be used for commercial benefit by other organisations. S/he said that s/he would not participate in an initiative that would benefit commercial service providers.
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One aggregator found that there is a real demand for research and development metadata, and this can provide a saving to JISC. This occurs because when JISC funds small projects for rapid innovation those projects often spend 2 months creating an aggregation that they need in order to do the research and development. Thus, there is a strong case for aggregating the metadata in advance then providing tailored feeds to the projects as needed.
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6.2.2 Benefits and Opportunities

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It is clear from the extent of the responses that a wide range of benefits is believed to be associated with an aggregation of metadata. There were several recurring themes:
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  • Simple, easy access from a single point to many resources that could be reused.
  • Making aggregations available to be indexed by commercial search engines, so users could find resources through their normal search techniques.
  • Like Google, but having a better understanding of what could be done with the resources found.
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Many of the benefits described by respondents are descriptions of the facilities that they would expect to be available in the services making use of the aggregations. This section describes the main benefits only, further benefits may be found in Appendix D – Online Survey Analysis.
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The benefits for learners relate to quick, easy access to a wide range of additional content without having to search multiple databases. This is simple, saves time, enhances knowledge and facilitates discovery of resources that, otherwise, would not be found. There is also a benefit in the potential reuse of resources, including those that have been annotated by others; and ‘safer’ results (described as those with clear Creative Commons licenses).
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For teachers the benefits relate to the ability to query multiple collections in one place to find rights-cleared resources for use in lectures or assignments. These include: time saving, making lesson development easier, enhancing the teaching experience, and the ability to search from a single place.
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The benefits for researchers are largely the same as those identified for learners and teachers, as well as to make it easier to obtain research resource, the potential for making unlikely or surprising connections (through a deeper, more intuitive browse experience), and developing the understanding that image, film and sound resources are available and may be used and cited in a scholarly way – as with journals and books.
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For aggregators the benefits include opportunities to exploit links between collection metadata, improving metadata globally, more efficient metadata gathering and the potential to create a ‘pyramid’ of aggregators at national, regional and local level which may help encourage and maintain links with collection owners.
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The main benefits for service developers are development opportunities and marketability, with better resource availability to enable quicker development of services as well as provision of richer services and tools for end-users.
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For collection owners the main benefits include raising the profile of their collections, gathering information about use of their collection(s), to enable cross-linking to other collections and brand enhance brand recognition for smaller collection owners who can have their material listed on a service next to higher profile collections.
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An aggregation of metadata would also provide benefits for other beneficiaries, these, with the benefits identified include:
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  • End-users in general:
    • Potentially improved experience of web based search and retrieval.
    • To search for images for presentations.
    • Searching across aggregated records to discover new uses, research areas, editorial possibilities and programming opportunities.
  • Universities – to raise the university profile through inclusion of special collections.
  • Content producers – to provide additional channels to disseminate their content.
  • Archivists – to facilitate persistent archiving and share the cost, with a view to reducing archive costs by holding only one copy of a work, and knowing which archive holds it.
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6.2.3 Scenarios where aggregations of metadata could be useful or required

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6.2.3.1 Search services

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The most frequent suggestion given for a search of aggregated metadata being useful was to find images, videos, audio for use in research, teaching and presentations. Examples given were usually discipline specific: search for images related to colorectal cancer; track individual dancers or other contributors over time; trace non-theatre space performance work; discover images that can be reused to develop an art history course; find image, film and sound material for creating an online language course for use in business situations.
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One participant visualised what was needed as ‘a Google-like intelligent solution that crawls databases like Google crawls the web’.
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6.2.3.2 Tools

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Respondents suggested that tools to remix content would be useful, as follows, although these relate to the digital resources themselves rather than the metadata:
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  • To search, play, annotate and re-use multiple video streams:
    • To produce montages.
    • For live remixing.
  • To build subject-specific content.
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Two scenarios for mashup tools using image and time-based media metadata were suggested:
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  • Combining mapping for geo-spatial with a range of moving image indexed metadata media sources (e.g. YouTube, Vimeo, etc.).
  • Integrating metadata into learning material such as virtual learning environments and learning materials themselves.
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6.2.3.3 Other services and tools

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A number of respondents gave specific suggestions for other services and tools (again some related to the digital resources rather than the metadata) that would be useful to them including those that would facilitate:
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  • Repackaging and repurposing of metadata on demand for purposes such as for research analysis and provision to other aggregators.
  • Creation of user-generated tags that would allow lecturers or classes to tag resources in a way that would facilitate sharing with others in the class.
  • Annotation of resources held online, i.e. without first downloading them (e.g. Caboto or the output of the Crew Project).
  • Determination of whether two audiovisual files have *roughly* the same content (e.g. video A is video B with a splash screen).
  • Extraction of words from a video/audio file for categorisation.
  • Easy comparison of multiple versions of same dance work.
  • Segmentation of an image, such as to identify particular structures or boundaries within an image.

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