Content and Context

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving this past Thursday. I read this article earlier this weekend thought I would post it.

I’m interested in learning more about MerlinOne. I think there is going to be a great need for this type of program as online posting of video increases. Tags and keywords can only describe so much when cataloging videos.

I believe that this takeaway is very potent and true to the information/archival/library profession:

“Content may be king but Context will be emperor.”


You can digitize a document or image and put it online; but without the metadata that accompanies that image, users can’t know anything about it. Even if it’s the most interesting image in your archive. However, metadata is only half the battle. If you only have one digitized image or document and can’t tie it into a larger collection, your online exhibition is incomplete.


Context can help shape a digitization project; it can keep it from getting overwhelming. As much as we would love to digitize the whole archives, realistic constraints of time, money, and person-hours make it impossible. Context can help you focus down to a particular collection at a time. It can also help when you need to apply for grants or local support.


Context is vital for librarians. If a patron is interested in a topic (like, Mayan culture for example), why are you interested? Is it for their own general interest? Are they picking up the book for a child’s research paper? And if so, age and level of comprehension? What do they need in order to be able to write about this topic?


I like to think of it like a gallery in a fine arts museum, You go up to the wall and you see the painting.(Image) Then on the side there is a little plaque that tells you a little about the painting (ex. title, artist, date) (metadata). But gallery exhibits are usually centered around particular themes, artistic periods, or collection. Say a Da Vinci painting was placed next to a Van Gogh sketch. Why? You need context. Otherwise they might as well not be in the same room.


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