January 21, 2012, 11:23 am

Metadata in Action

By Henry Woodbury

Doing a comparative analysis of search functionality, I came across an interesting interactive diagram at the National Archives of Australia. Using simple rollovers the diagram explains the metadata hierarchy used within the Commonwealth Record Series (CRS) System. To see the diagram, start at the Search the Collection page, click “Search as Guest”, then click the “RecordSearch – Advanced search” tab. Here’s a screenshot:

Commonwealth Record Series Metadata Diagram

Compare this to the boxes-and-arrows diagram used in the 4700-word CRS Manual.

Commonwealth Record Series Structure

What gives the interactive chart its punch is the use of verbs to describe the connections between the elements. Verbs like “contain”, “create”, “perform” are contrasted with “are part of”, “are created by”, “are performed by”. These words identify the relationship between subjects and objects in a much more informative way than lines with arrowheads.

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Filed under: Diagrams, Information Architecture, Information Design, Language

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