This week’s readings focused on categorizing objects, works of art, and artifacts. “Data standards not only promote the recording of information consistently but are also fundamental to retrieving it efficiently. They promote data sharing, improve content management, and reduce redundant efforts.” Data standards are important for the efficient use of artistic objects. However, as we discussed in DH 101, categorizing cultural objects is inherently racist as it imposes Western ideals on work that wasn’t created for, or by, Westerners. Therefore, although data standards are limitlessly important, we must take care when creating categories that pay respect to the true meaning of the art work.
For example, the simple category “place of creation” or “country of origin” could become a category of dissonance and contention because of all the rampant tension and historical indiscrepancies relating to the borders of cities or countries. If something was created in modern day Russia in the 50’s, was it created in Russia or in the USSR? And how can we remedy these issues to ensure no unintended offense occurs when attempting to categorize objects.
The issues with substandard metadata are apparent in the social media/ blog site Tumblr. On Tumblr, you can tag items with anything you want. There are rarely suggested terms that would remain constant for every object. Though Tumblr content tends to be trashy memes rather than important high art, the issues with inconsistent data are the same: objects become nearly, if not totally, impossible to find. Therefore we cannot discount the importance of controlled vocabulary and metadata for all objects.