Home About Subscribe Search Member Area

Humanist Discussion Group

< Back to Volume 34

Humanist Archives: June 19, 2020, 9:54 a.m. Humanist 34.122 - pubs: politics of metadata cfp

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 34, No. 122.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                   Hosted by King's Digital Lab
                Submit to: humanist@dhhumanist.org

        Date: 2020-06-19 08:31:46+00:00
        From: Karin Hansson 
        Subject: CfP 'The Politics of Metadata' - J. of Digital Culture & Society

Call for Papers: The Politics of Metadata
Issue 1/2021, Digital Culture & Society, http://digicults.org

Edited by: Anna Dahlgren, Karin Hansson, Rámon Reichert and Amanda

Abstract submission: June 28, 2020
Author submission: July 1, 2020
Full paper submission: October 1, 2020
Final version: December 30, 2020

This special issue of the Digital Culture & Society journal invites
theoretical and methodological contributions discussing the politics of
metadata. The transformation of image collections from files and boxes
to digital interfaces has had implications for the way images are
annotated and ordered. In particular, new issues arise in relation to
the practices of and policies for creating descriptive metadata. The
first generation of digitization in the 1990s sparked a lively debate
around images and their credibility, which played out in the news media,
political circles, and in relation to history writing (Mitchell, 1994;
Ritchin, 1990). Despite the fact that photographic manipulation is as
old as the medium itself, the ease and availability of software that
allowed consumers to “photoshop” images on their personal computers
ushered in an era of digital distrust. Yet, as pointed out by Rubinstein
and Sluis, “In the past, concerns about manipulation of pixels caused
people to doubt the veracity of the digital image; however, manipulation
of metadata can have much more dramatic and far-reaching consequences
and they indicate that the construction and design of metadata inflicts
archiving and classification practices yet also the conditions of use“
(Rubinstein and Sluis, 2013). In other words, while many people worry
about the consequences of digital image manipulation, the data we
collect on our data, which is used to order and recall a vast array of
digital material, can also be subject to biases and manipulations that
are just as insidious and often more difficult to detect.

The design and use of metadata is therefore always culturally, socially
and ideologically inflected (Baylis, 2014; Bunnik et al., 2016;
Loukissas, 2017; Pollen, 2016). Indeed all metadata situate the images
they furnish historically, geographically, politically and
organizationally. The actors and their agendas and interest, whether
these are institutions (museums, archives, libraries, corporate image
suppliers) or individuals (image producers, social media agents,
researchers) affect the character of metadata (Schwartz, 1995; Schwartz
and Cook, 2002). If, for example, nationality is an important founding
rationale for a museum their images will be tagged with national origin
which in itself is a historical construct and sometimes quite
problematic (Rodini, 2018). Such interest may also vary over time. While
the gender of the image producer is of vital concern in memory
institutions today the issue whether an image or art work is produced by
a woman or a man has not always historically been of interest for
collections managers (Pierce, 2019). Thus the available metadata is the
result, and also part of, negotiations between conflicting interests
accumulated and transformed over time (Baca, 2016). In sum these are
examples of the politics of metadata.

When it comes to big data and data-driven research, we have to pay
particular attention to the effects of the interfaces we use. Metadata
and the archiving practices that produce it are increasingly important
for collecting institutions—and for visual culture at large—as a means
to navigate the rapidly growing volume of data, situating them
historically, socially, and locally (Baylis, 2014; Bunnik et al., 2016;
Loukissas, 2017; Pollen, 2016). The fact that images today are copied
and redistributed in infinite numbers as well as modified, manipulated,
and placed in new contexts raises question about how images are
furnished with descriptive metadata and by whom. Metadata not only
affects the searchability and visibility of images but, by extension,
how they are used and interpreted.

Image collections today create descriptive metadata in three major ways:
by employing professional cataloguers within the institution that
governs the collection, by enlisting the help of the general public via
online interfaces, or by automation using algorithm based tools and
machine learning, like pattern recognition.

In this special issue we seek to address the ideological and political
aspects of metadata practices within image collections from an
interdisciplinary perspective. The overall aim is to consider the
implications, tensions, and challenges involved in the creation of
metadata in terms of content, structure, searchability, and diversity.

We invite proposals including, but not limited to, the following topics:

• The relationship and systemic tensions between professional and
amateur taggers, between metadata standards and folksonomies. What are
the decisive differences between descriptive metadata produced by
professional cataloguers and amateurs through crowdsourcing in terms of
content, structure, and usability? What are the differences between
private and public metadata? The numerous metadata standards, which
govern much of the professional‘s metadata production display a
heterogenous field (Margulies, 2017; Mayernik, 2020; Riley, 2017, 2009).
Simultaneously many institutions are not using any of the established
standards (Waldron et al., 2017). Folksonomies, in turn, have been
studied and implemented as ways to bridge between expert and non-expert
vocabularies (Cairns, 2013), and potentially to feed into the creation
of formal taxonomies or ontologies (Gil et al. 2017).

• The issue of anonymity and social identity in relation to metadata
What are the implications of anonymity for metadata producers within
cultural heritage institutions, corporate image suppliers, or public
crowdsourcing platforms? How can this be understood and/or challenged in
the context of social media practices where a particular user’s
reputation and output history is often the determining factor in gauging
the trustworthiness of the information produced? (Esteve, 2019)

• The challenge in creating metadata that is coherent and reflects
diverse perspectives.
In order for images to be searchable, reliable, and usable, collections
need to create metadata standards for accuracy and uniformity (Zhang et
al., 2019). Simultaneously, there is an increasing demand for
descriptive metadata to be inclusive, i.e. encouraging participation and
heterogeneity in representation. Given that these two objectives might
contradict or come into conflict with one another, how can cultural
heritage institutions strike a balance between them?

• Issues of standards, centrality, and networks in relation to metadata
For example, what is the relationship between metadata standards and
their institutional, geographical settings? Who are the major agents in
the field of metadata production and what are the implications of this?
How might we develop more horizontal systems for the production of
descriptive metadata?(Piotrowski, 2009)

Paper proposals may relate to, but are not limited to, the following
questions concerning the metadata paradigm. Interdisciplinary
contributions, such as those from science and technology studies or the
digital humanities, are particularly encouraged. When submitting an
abstract, authors should make explicit to which of the following
categories they would like to submit their paper:

1.       Field Research and Case Studies (full paper: 6000-8000 words)
We invite articles that discuss empirical findings from studies that
approach the relationships between data science, digital humanities,
digital histories, computational intelligence, cultural studies, art
history, gender studies, science and technology studies. These may
include practices of circulating or collecting data as well processes of
production and evaluation.

2.       Methodological Reflection (full paper: 6000-8000 words)
We invite contributions that reflect on the methodologies employed when
researching the practices of the new tendencies of metadata production.
These may include, for example, the specificities of methodological
reflection of scientific fieldwork in online/offline environments;
challenges and opportunities faced when qualitatively researching
quantifiable data and vice versa; approaches using mixed methods;
discussions of mobile and circulative methods; and reflections of
experimental forms of research.

3.       Conceptual/Theoretical Reflection (full paper: 6000-8000 words)
We encourage contributions that reflect on the conceptual and/or
theoretical dimension of the metadata paradigm, and discuss or question
how the data-driven research on metadata can be defined, what it can
describe, and how it can be differentiated.

4.       Entering the Field (2000-3000 words; experimental formats welcome)
This experimental section presents initial and ongoing empirical work in
digital media studies. The editors have created this section to provide
a platform for researchers who would like to initiate a discussion
concerning their emerging (yet perhaps incomplete) research material and
plans as well as methodological insights.

Deadlines and contact information
•  Initial abstracts (max. 300 words) and a short biographical note
(max. 100 words) are due on: June 28, 2020.
•  Authors will be notified by July 10, 2020, whether they are invited
to submit a full paper.
•  Full papers are due on: October  01, 2020.
•  Notifications to authors of referee decisions: November 20, 2020
•  Final versions due: December 30, 2020
•  Please send your abstract and short biographical note to:

Unsubscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted
List posts to: humanist@dhhumanist.org
List info and archives at at: http://dhhumanist.org
Listmember interface at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted/
Subscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/membership_form.php

Editor: Willard McCarty (King's College London, U.K.; Western Sydney University, Australia)
Software designer: Malgosia Askanas (Mind-Crafts)

This site is maintained under a service level agreement by King's Digital Lab.