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Live music, social media and participatory metadata†
Version of Record online: 3 FEB 2011
Copyright © 2010 by American Society for Information Science and Technology
Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science and Technology
Volume 47, Issue 1, pages 1–2, November/December 2010
How to Cite
Lingel, J. (2010), Live music, social media and participatory metadata. Proc. Am. Soc. Info. Sci. Tech., 47: 1–2. doi: 10.1002/meet.14504701376
- Issue online: 3 FEB 2011
- Version of Record online: 3 FEB 2011
This project examines the metadata practices of YouTube users who take and share videos of live music events. Situated within library and information science scholarship addressing the utility of and applications for harnessing participatory metadata (also called user-generated metadata), it is argued that taking a qualitative approach to this phenomenon allows for a more complex understanding of individual information practices. In turn, this understanding can lead to important improvements in application design and provide valuable insight on the viability of incorporating participatory metadata into institutional archives and catalogs.
Almost since its inception as a term, web 2.0 has been embraced as a harbinger of technological solutions to problems of describing and organizing information. More specifically, there has been continued optimism that participatory metadata would not only represent an important medium of interaction with and communication from individual users, but could also perhaps be used to augment, improve or even replace tasks integral to the organization and description of information. Participatory metadata is produced on any number of social media and personal information management applications, but one critical (and largely understudied) source of participatory content can be found on social media sites. This paper is a preliminary investigation of the metadata practices of YouTube users who take and share videos of live music events. Qualitative interviews combined with analysis of YouTube channels are used to understand not only what metadata people use to describe their content, but how metadata is perceived in terms of design, usability, description and access.
Previous research has been done on the subject of participatory metadata, particularly in terms of tagging (Rolla, P. 2009;), search (Heymann, P., Koutrika, G., & Garcia-Molina, H., 2008) and potential consequences or gains for libraries and archives (Jensen, M., 2007; Schwartz, C. 2008; Trainor, C, 2009). This project is similarly interested in the applicability of participatory metadata to institutional archives, but takes a qualitative approach to understanding metadata practices. To that end, this work is informed by Ames and Naaman's research (2007) on tagging behavior with Flickr and ZoneTag, in which the authors constructed a taxonomy of motivations for tagging photos. The taxonomy uses two dimensions to categorize incentives for tagging photographs (see figure 1). The first dimension, “sociality” relates to the intended users of the tagged media, which could be either for personal use (“self”) or public use (“social”). The second dimension, “functionality” is used to account for the purpose of the tags as organizational or communicative. Using this taxonomy to organize participant comments, we can identify trends among YouTube users in the particular context of metadata used for DIY videos of live music events.
This project takes a qualitative approach to exploring YouTube videos in the specific context of live music events to gain an in-depth understanding of the metadata practices used to organize media. A total of ten interviews were conducted during spring and summer of 2010. Participants were asked to discuss specific YouTube videos they had posted, and to describe in detail the process of taking and posting videos online. By presenting participant accounts of metadata practices, this research offers an in-depth examination of participatory metadata as it is currently being used in an everyday life capacity. From this point, we are better placed to draw conclusions about the incorporation of participatory metadata into archives on an institutional level.
Using the taxonomy developed by Ames and Naaman (2007), participant accounts of metadata practices are categorized in terms of the functionality of description as being rooted in either organization or communication, and the intended beneficiary of description as being self or socially motivated. Regarding functionality, participants described the purpose of metadata – without using the term metadata - as a matter of helping other users locate videos. As one participant described, “how do you think people are going to find your stuff if you don't at least put something” in the video metadata. Users who emphasize metadata as a facilitation of search demonstrate the social-organization category of the taxonomy. Critical to this category is the consistent inclusion of song titles, band and venue names and performance dates with the concert video. In contrast, other participants emphasized providing YouTube viewers with information about the quality of the show or video. This approach signifies wanting to provide a sense of context for the video. As one participant put it, one intended audience of her videos consists of fans of the band who were unable to make the show, where information about the show itself can contextualize the video in terms of other performances. For these viewers, metadata is both a guide to the video and about the video.
Ames and Naaman (2007) also typified self-directed motivations, which were less evident in discussions with participants about metadata, emerging instead from comments about motivations for taking videos of live music events in general. Among these comments, some emphasized personal organization (wanting to return to videos as a matter of reference) and some emphasized personal context (treating videos as a memory aid or keepsakes). To illustrate these categories, the table below shows the Ames and Naaman taxonomy illustrated with quotes from participant interviews
Several key themes emerge from these findings. First, users who provide highly organized and descriptive data for their content also appreciate and expect organized data from other users. Second, when participants describe the purpose of videos, their comments fall in line with the self categories. When asked specifically about the purpose of metadata, the discussion is more in keeping with the social categories. A third finding is the suggestion that many users understood the importance of metadata for searching, in keeping with Lange's (2007) findings that YouTube users exert effort into metadata in order to encourage (or in some cases restrict) the findability of their assets.
In terms of implications of this work for institutions such as libraries and archives, one approach is to focus on the behavior, practices and motivations of dedicated metadata providers. With a better understanding of how these users engage with content and what motivates them to organize and describe their data with more thoroughness and attentiveness than other users, institutions are better positioned to incorporate participatory metadata that is both more descriptive and more consistent. Put another way, increased understanding of users who provide better metadata may allow institutions to be more focused and directed in their approaches to incorporating participatory metadata into their archives. Additionally, institutions could examine possibilities for creating and implementing tools that allow these power users to alter, update or interact with other users' metadata.
Future work on this topic will take a mixed-methods approach, using analysis of interviews to gain an in-depth understanding of perceptions about metadata, and analysis of the metadata used by users about their YouTube channels. Additional analysis will also concentrate on differences between mainstream and indie shows in terms of video metadata. Using participant interviews to gain an in-depth, holistic understanding of metadata practices in everyday life, future research will address the applicability of this description and organization by users from the perspective of institutional use.
|Self||“As a musician … I like to analyze and break down songs. It helps me appreciate it better. So if I have a recording of it, I can remember what happened, or I can pinpoint it and detail it.”||“The more shows I see, the easier it is to forget especially since I have a bad habit of wanting to take a lot of pictures during the show, so I miss out on things.”|
|Social||“it's just so people can find the show easily. If they know the band name, venue and date of the show, they can just type it in on YouTube and they'll find what I shot at that particular show.”||“On the video description, I put, okay, I recorded this so-and-so if you just want to skip to the music go to this point in the video. So it's just to be courteous, I guess.”|
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