In this assignment, you will define a set of entities, articulate a motivating purpose for describing them, and then outline a structure of attributes and associated values to systematically represent your entities as metadata. You will use your defined attribute set to create metadata for five varied instances of entities in your set.
First, you will define a group of entities to describe. This could be anything. Some examples here might be:
- Hill country hiking trails.
- Austin taquerias.
- Photos from a vacation to Scotland.
- Zombie movies.
- Missouri wineries.
- Knitting patterns.
- Books, articles, and Web resources for information architecture.
Submit your idea for a group of entities by 3 p.m. on Wednesday, February 3, for instructor approval.
When defining your class of entities, give a sense of the range of possible instances that would fit into your set. For example, is a photo in the airport an acceptable instance of Scotland vacation photo? Is an establishment that serves burritos but no tacos an acceptable instance of taqueria? Thinking about border cases will help you create attributes that apply equally to all members of your set of entities.
Next, you will articulate a purpose and associated target audience to motivate your description. For example, you might want to share your Scotland photos with your photography club, or you might want to advance the cause of Scottish hegemony throughout the world. You might want to help novice knitters find patterns that make nice gifts, or you might want to promote the cause of Missouri wine with relatively sophisticated, and potentially skeptical, drinkers. You can see how each situation might suggest a different set of attributes for the same entity set.
You will then articulate a set of 10-15 attributes to define your entities in support of the purpose. You will label and describe each attribute in sufficient detail so that an "outside indexer" (that is, someone who is merely given your schema and its documentation) could assign values for entities of the type that you have described. For each attribute, you will set parameters for acceptable values and provide guidelines that show how values should be expressed.
Once you have sufficiently defined your attributes, use the structure that you have developed to preliminarily describe five instances to represent both central and border cases of your entity set. If there are cases where you are unable to satisfactorily describe an instance, use this as an opportunity to revise the schema and clarify your attribute definitions. (You might even need to clarify the boundaries of your group of entities and sharpen its description.) Then use your revised schema to create five final descriptions for your entity instances.
Finally, write a brief critical reflection on your design process and resulting product. You might discuss questions such as the following:
- As you designed your initial attribute set, how did you ensure that your attributes contributed to your defined purpose for description? If this process was difficult, what made it so?
- How did your schema change, if at all, following the initial test? What necessitated the changes, and why weren't you able to anticipate these issues in advance?
- Did your perception of your group of entities change after attempting to describe the five instances? How did your conception of this set change, and what caused your perspective to shift?
- Do you feel like your final schema represents the group of entities well? Why or why not?
- What was difficult about this design project?
- What might you keep in mind for subsequent metadata design projects?
Note: These are examples of questions that you might discuss. To create a concise yet cohesive paper, you will need to concetrate on a few design issues of particular relevance to your project. Do not merely answer the questions here.
Your final assignment should include:
- A set of instructions for an outside indexer to use in adding descriptions of new instances to the set of records that you have already created. These instructions should include the following two elements:
- A few paragraphs to describe your group of entities, your purpose for describing them, and how your defined attributes work to facilitate the purpose.
- Your attribute descriptions, value parameters, and associated guidelines for using the schema to describe the entities. The description for each attribute should follow a consistent format. (You can use something similar to the NISO standard for Dublin Core that we will read in Week 3, or devise your own format. You may use tables if you wish.)
- Your descriptions of five instances. Use a consistent format for each record (perhaps a table for each instance).
- Your critical reflection. This should be written in narrative form, as a cohesive paper of 750-1000 words.
A successful assignment will exhibit these characteristics:
- The reader understands what constitutes a member of the defined set, who makes up the audience, and the goals associated with the purpose.
- The defined attributes effectively represent the selected entities in the context of the described purpose, and the value space effectively represents the extent of the attributes. For example, when describing yoga poses for students, an attribute that indicates level of difficulty might be appropriate. However, such an attribute might seem less appropriate if describing yoga poses in relation to the history of Hindu thought and culture. In addition, the values described for the potential level of difficulty attribute for yoga poses should encompass the full range of possibilities at an appropriate level of detail for the audience and purpose.
- The attribute descriptions, value parameters, and associated guidelines can be easily understood by outside indexers and applied to describe actual entities accurately and comprehensively within the context of the selected purpose. It is clear how to apply the descriptive schema to both standard and border cases.
- The descriptions of entity instances follow the created definitions and guidelines accurately and represent a range of potential entities, from prototypical examples to less common ones that stretch the potential definition of the entity set.
- The critical reflection thoughtfully evaluates the design process, product, or both, using the experience of creating the descriptive schema to productively engage larger issues of theory and practice (that is, the reflection does not merely summarize the design process or product; it interrogates it).
- The assignment follows a logical document structure, is clearly written, and uses correct grammar and punctuation.
In grading the assignment, the total number of points are equally distributed amongst these criteria (so 5 points possible per item).