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  • Big Data, Bad Metadata: A Methodological Note on the Importance of Good Metadata in the Age of Digital History

    Kimmo Elo

    Chapter from the book: Fridlund, M et al. 2020. Digital Histories: Emergent Approaches within the New Digital History.


    The chapter discusses how the exponential growth of both digitised and born-digital research materials has brought upon new challenges regarding research data creation, data management and data discovery. It argues that the Digital Humanities community should pay more attention to the metadata creation as valid, standardised and well-structured metadata describing similar contents in identical terms help scholars to better discover relevant materials. This is especially important since a great majority of digital sources are made available via web-based portals offering search engines or other possibilities to query the collections. This development from a human-to-human interface towards a human-to-computer interface replaces the ‘silent knowledge’ of archivists with computer algorithms. Since most algorithms rely on available metadata, the structural power of actors responsible for the metadata creation should be taken seriously. If scholars cannot rely on getting reliable results when committing searches in online collections, the digital leap manifested by proponents of digital humanities might end with a belly flop.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Elo, K. 2020. Big Data, Bad Metadata: A Methodological Note on the Importance of Good Metadata in the Age of Digital History. In: Fridlund, M et al (eds.), Digital Histories. Helsinki: Helsinki University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.33134/HUP-5-6

    This is an Open Access chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (unless stated otherwise), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Copyright is retained by the author(s).

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    Additional Information

    Published on Dec. 7, 2020


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