The Knowledge Management Research Group

Scenario: Introducing meta-data

Eva is a student in biology and uses a portfolio for both work and spare time. Consequently her portfolio has several parts where she uses it differently. For instance she is working on a essay regarding the gathering patterns for squirrels. In doing so she needs to collect data from various sources both from articles she can find on the net, books in the library and a small experiment she does for herself. Each source need to be documented with information such as the author, title, publication, location in publication, etc i.e. the information that will be put in her reference list eventually. But there is other information that need to be collected as well but won't have an equally well defined location in her final document, e.g. who cites who, credibility of author and publication, personal reflections such as judgements and annotations. All this information could be written down in an embryo to her essay but she prefers to keep it in her portfolio for now as it is has support for meta-data in a structured fashion with ready made, configurable forms.

In parallel she visits a course in chemistry where the teacher has made material available to the students in the course portfolio (which resides in the chemistry departments top portfolio over all courses). Each lecture has a small set of courselets, in this case notes and examples, intended to be complementary to the presentation at the blackboard. Usually Eva makes the lecture material show up in her portfolio by a link, even though she can't edit the courselets in themselves she can add meta-data such as annotations and make associations to material she digested before that seem relevant. Sometimes, after a lecture she takes the time to clean up the annotations and reorder the courselets favoring her personal learning style, this will help her when she needs to recapitulate the lecture, for instance when the exam is closing in.

In her spare time Eva listens a lot to music and has a non negligible music collection. Since she has a bunch of friends that often lends music from here she have chosen to keep track of her records in her portfolio. Whenever she buys a new record she documents it in her portfolio via referring to a portfolio containing the CCCCA database, if it's not there she have to type it in by hand, but that occurs rather seldom. Also when she finds some nice new music online she bookmarks it in her portfolio for allowing herself to have a second and third opinion, deciding later if she should incorporate it into her music collection or not (if it's free she only has to decide on taste, otherwise her wallet has to be in on the decision). For convenience she has configured her web-browser to use a part of her portfolio for bookmarks storage, consequently her bookmarks will always be accessible, no doubling of information or need to keep bookmarks in phase on several computers.

She often adds information such as group, genre, background story (if there is one), a rating and some general comments. Since she has made some special filters in her portfolio whenever something is classified as belonging to a certain genre it shows up in a special catalog. Actually it works the other way around as well, referring a track or album in a genre catalog tags it with that genre automatically. In general such filters are made as combinations of conditions on meta-data fields, in this case Eva simply chooses to filter on the value on the genre meta-data field. (Filters has the semantics make new catalog for each distinct value? where the values can be a function of several meta-data fields.)

She's not alone in documenting music like this, several thousands around the world do the same. Exploring others portfolios with their comments on favourite music is often an inspiration to find new music especially since some music can be listened to directly. Other people do similar things with books, movies, art, collections of for instance stamps, family history, etc.

But it's not only regular documents Eva stores in his portfolio, bookmarks and references to object in the real world is in there to. References to books, articles, etc.


  • Dublin Core meta-data, e.g. title, author, date etc.
  • User defined meta-data, for instance 'I rate this'-field.
  • Filtering in catalogs on this meta-data.
  • Annotations of others material.
  • Non digital resources can be referred and meta-data can be added on them, i.e. books and records can be talked about without being accessible electronically.
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