Structural Metadata and the Social Limitation of Interoperability: A Sociotechnical View of XML and Digital Library Standards Development
Graduate School of Library & Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The past decade has seen the rise of both the XML standard and a variety of XML-based structural metadata schemas within the digital library community. Both XML itself, and the metadata schemas developed by the digital library community can be considered as cases of sociotechnical artifacts, constructions that bear within them their designers' worldview of how people within the world should appropriate and use their technology. If we examine the metadata schemas produced by the digital library community, we find that the designers' inscription strongly favors local control over encoding practice to insuring interoperability between institutions. If the goal of digital library interoperability is to be realized, schema designers will need to acknowledge the tension between local control and external connection using markup languages, and adjust their standard development efforts accordingly.