Visual Meta for the Web

Part of our redesign will be the incorporation of Visual Meta into our pages.

What is Visual Meta you might ask? It is meta-data containing authorship and citation information allowing a page to effectively identify itself to reference managers.

But unlike older systems like COINS or HTML header meta-data tags, Visual Meta is a viable part of a document that a software application or human reader can easily locate and extract. And when printed, it can be scanned in and converted back to data via ORC technology. This makes it remarkably robust and superior to the automatically generated headers footers added by most browsers when a web page is printed.

Visual Meta is an open standard that at minimum contains a self-citation block, but it and can be augmented with additional content like glossary entries, so what we can do with Visual Meta is limited only by our imagination!

The Invisible Library

The University Library Catalog is perhaps the most underutilized and underdeveloped resource at our disposal. While we can readily search for catalog entries based on their constituent fields and even browse some collections in “shelf order” with images of dust jackets, the accessible catalog is but the tip of a potentially invaluable sea of metadata and associations.

Moreover, the set of titles present in the formal catalog of the library proper does not always include non-circulating and often uncatalogued departmental holdings, nor the private collections of inividual students and faculty along with transient titles accessed online or through interlibrary loan that make up the true “working collection”. To begin to automatically assess the scope of this Invisible Library one could scan the bibliographies of student and faculty publications and compare them with the traditional catalog proper to find cited work not in the permanent collection.

If we could further enrich our analysis to capture frequency, nature, and importance of use, we could begin to isolate key titles for future acquisition; as well as identify low value unused and underused portions of the collection, whose retention serves no active function other than contributing aggregate collection size statistics.

Working in the other direction, one could begin mapping out the subject matter expertise of borrowers with an eye to soliciting collection development guidance and facilitating expertise matching to proactively suggest co-authorship opportunities.

Likewise, there is no reason not to regard each title and associated subject entry as its own chat room and discussion forum, further enriching the catalog with links to locations, people, organizations, artifacts, experiments, questions, concerns, and all manner of related entities.

In short we call for making the library catalog a true Knowledge Graph in the richest possible sense.

The New Media Reader

To chart our future course it is critical that we not loose sight of the best ideas of the past, particularly where they have fallen out of fashion.

The New Media Reader​*​ (ISBN: 978-0-262-23227-2) edited by Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort is a critical volume assembling such classic papers as Vannevar Bush’s “As We May Think”, J.C.R. Licklider’s “Man-Computer Symbiosis”, and Douglas Engelbart and William English’s “A Research Center for Augmenting Human Intellect” along with complete documents and excerpts from countless other seminal works.​1​

These key references will directly inform the architecture of our information technology infrastructure.

  1. ​*​
    This title was also typeset as theNewMediaReader and comes bundled with a CD ROM of videos demonstrating many of the systems discussed.
  1. 1.
    Wardrip-Fruin N. The New Media Reader. MIT Press; 2003.