Ask a question about 'Metacrap'
Start a new discussion about 'Metacrap'
Answer questions from other users
is a portmanteau drawn from metadata
The term metadata is an ambiguous term which is used for two fundamentally different concepts . Although the expression "data about data" is often used, it does not apply to both in the same way. Structural metadata, the design and specification of data structures, cannot be about data, because at...
and crap. The origin of the word is unknown, but it was popularized by Cory Doctorow
Cory Efram Doctorow is a Canadian-British blogger, journalist, and science fiction author who serves as co-editor of the blog Boing Boing. He is an activist in favour of liberalising copyright laws and a proponent of the Creative Commons organization, using some of their licences for his books...
in a 2001 essay titled "Metacrap: Putting the torch to seven straw-men of the meta-utopia."http://www.well.com/~doctorow/metacrap.htm
In the essay, Doctorow illustrates problems in relying on metadata for knowledge representation
Knowledge representation is an area of artificial intelligence research aimed at representing knowledge in symbols to facilitate inferencing from those knowledge elements, creating new elements of knowledge...
in online records or files by drawing humorous parallels to real-world systems, as well as showing examples of metadata collapse in online, web-based systems. The fragility of metadata is an important concern because much planning for improving the web (such as the semantic web
The Semantic Web is a collaborative movement led by the World Wide Web Consortium that promotes common formats for data on the World Wide Web. By encouraging the inclusion of semantic content in web pages, the Semantic Web aims at converting the current web of unstructured documents into a "web of...
) is predicated upon certain flavors of metadata becoming widely adopted and used with care—something which, according to Doctorow's essay, will not and cannot happen.
Doctorow's seven insurmountable obstacles to reliable metadata are:
- People lie
- People are lazy
- People are stupid
- Mission Impossible: know thyself
- Schemas are not neutral
- Metrics influence results
- There's more than one way to describe something
Other reasons that result in metadata becoming obsolete (crap) are:
- Data may become irrelevant in time
- Data may not be updated with new insights
This means search results will return outdated and incorrect data.