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Video metadata: ripe for innovation

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Knowledge managers who tap metadata understand its utility and its drawbacks. Most metadata systems focus on addressing issues associated with traditional content types. Many organizations have legacy systems. Those often contain information about the information stored in an outdated IBM CICS system or a specialist system designed to manage video footage. We worked with a company that ran a legacy accounting and inventory management system on IBM AS/400 servers. The Ironside software maintained logs and generated a number of useful reports about products stored in the Ironside data management subsystem. Many organizations have historical data in a long-term magnetic tape archive. In some businesses, historical data have significant potential value. An increasing number of organizations have information stored in cloud services, such as Dropbox, used by employees to share data. Metatagging systems can deal with those admittedly hard problems.

Even the most sophisticated text-centric systems struggle to keep pace with the flow of textual content. Systems are widely available to add significant value to content stored in Microsoft SharePoint or in text-oriented content management systems. The problem is that rich media is not yet a content type that enterprise metatagging systems handle with the ease of Portable Document Format content and vanilla HTML.

Closing the gap

The need for more sophisticated metatagging systems is growing. Moreover, systems have to do more than index key words and make a stab at assigning a document to a category. Where is information about the context of the rich media? Contextual metadata provides insight into what specific factors caused a document to be created or a video to be shot. Context has to be sensitive to what information is within the video-what the people are saying. Figuring out how to get more comprehensive metadata requires more than marketing buzzwords. Slick sales presentations suggest the problem is solved. Unfortunately metadata for video remains a challenge, and the gap between assigning meaningful metadata and the volume of video content is widening.

Today, most knowledge managers focus on getting the nuts-and-bolts of text processing done within acceptable time and cost parameters. Video and then contextual metatagging are new lands to explore for many organizations. Broad awareness of metadata is a step forward. What is needed is continued technical innovation. I see some progress with much to be done. We can shoot a video and post it on YouTube or make a video available to an employee on a local server, but the metadata will be context-free and unrelated to what is "in" the footage. Findability is a problem.

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