Life Lessons : Metadata
Say you have a product – an object of some sort – a shirt or a song, an idea or a skill – and you’d like to share it, show it, sell it, make it useful. How would you go about this? Perhaps make an image of it, a recording, describe or depict it somehow, place it with similar objects but distinguish it, express what it’s made of, from, how, where, when, how one can find or obtain it. None of these things – the image, the recording, the description, depiction, components, composition, etc. ARE the product itself – they are new and other objects – descriptive ones, administrative ones, structuring ones, among other things…potentially useful and actionable data about the resource itself.
The shirt is long-sleeved, it is stormy blue, size: large (16.5×42), it has 5 buttons made of sandalwood, it is hand-stitched and crafted from Indian muslin, and so on. Metadata. It applies to ideas, objects, events, persons, places, things, relations, sounds, senses. It is a language. It can be formal or informal, global or local, controlled or free. It allows systems and processes, machines or functions, humans or networks to utilize resources toward purposes – to identify, select, obtain, organize, comprehend, etc…
The resource is separate from all this.
Metadata and Experience
A rush of blood to the head. An uncontrollable weeping. Sudden awareness, a fear, a noticing. Tightening throat, sorrow, excitement. Vibrations on the inside, tingling along the spine, a feeling in the “gut.” Things happen. We move. We sense. We perceive. We process all this automatically, at a bodily, neuronal, cellular, physiological scale : our resources for staying alive, for being.
Enter metadata…of which the above paragraph is an example (the descriptive type). How describe, identify, narrativize (organize, administer), utilize, put to some constructed purpose all these goings-on of our felt experience (our primary resources)? Create repeatable elements, qualifications (say “the flush in response to her text was ‘love,’ ‘infatuation,’ ‘shame,’ or ‘rage’”); encode it, fit it into the system, the processes (“I wouldn’t feel such pain if things were different, if she were here…”)…signify relations.
It is stormy blue, my grief, it has long sleeves with a long reach, it covers me entire, lays upon me like a veil, like a skin between. I am clothed with absence, the buttons burn.
Metadata. The resource (capacity for grief, for attachment, for longing; the ability to love, to fear, to wish, to compose metadata, to fabricate meaning/purpose/functions and relations for physiological experience – the Resources) – are separate from their description, depiction, events, experiences, persons, relations, constructed meanings…THE RESOURCES ARE OURS.
We tend, for ease of use and efficiency, consistency, sharability, continuity and so on (“interoperability”) to create for ourselves Application Profiles – when we experience this sort of felt happening I’ll call it love, anger, shelve it here, link it to…qualify it with shame, doubt, fear, happiness (all major experience-metadata schema elements). So we create Core Elements or fields of experience and their Qualifiers, Sources, Rights, Techniques and Technicalities, and administer, structure, organize, identify and select (or reject) our felt experiences accordingly. Our constant work of labeling, cataloging, categorizing, operationalizing, conditioning, meaning-making: our data about data – our profiles of description, selection, controls, language, encoding, linking, expressing…structuring our experience.
Our Resource Description Frameworks – statements – “this, has relation to, this” “is similar to” “causes” “is result of” “makes me” “hurts…” “means…” “is author of” “has title” and so on…ME.
And then the Resources…apart from all that… our felt experiences…our capacities and abilities we label love, courage, loss, grief, ecstasy, pleasure, pain, generosity, grace, fear, anger, shame, hope…
…apart from the metadata we construct, the linkages we compose…
are OURS to utilize as we see fit, as we wish, as we choose.
and a poem by Philip White:
and a song from Nils Frahm