4.4. Describing Non-text Resources

Many of the principles and methods for resource description were developed for describing text resources in physical formats. Those principles have had to evolve to deal with different types of resources that people want to describe and organize, from paintings and statues to MP3s, JPEGs, and MPEGs.

Some descriptions for non-text resources are text-based, and are most often assigned by people. Other descriptions are in non-text formats are extracted algorithmically from the content of the non-text resource. These latter content-based resource descriptions capture intrinsic technical properties but cannot (yet) describe aboutness in a reliably complete manner.

4.4.1. Describing Museum and Artistic Resources

The problems associated with describing multimedia resources are not all new. Museum curators have been grappling with them since they first started to collect, store, and describe artifacts hundreds of years ago. Many artifacts may represent the same work (think about shards of pottery that may once have been part of the same vase). The materials and forms do not convey semantics on their own. Without additional research and description, we know nothing about the vase; it does not come with any sort of title page or tag that connects it with a 9th-century Mayan settlement. Since museums can acquire large batches of artifacts all at once, they have to make decisions about which resources they can afford to describe and how much they can describe ...

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