Right now I'm reading Peter Morville's Ambient Findability and, consequently, thinking about metadata a lot. I learned about XML in library school, but RDF is new to me, and I have to admit it's making my head spin a little bit. There's an interesting post at if:book regarding the adoption of metadata schemas, too.
Morville points out that there's a split between believers in standards and the semantic web and believers in folksonomies– as if the two are mutually exclusive or we would be better off with one than the other. He does explain that people are beginning to see the uses of combining the two, but I have a hard time understanding why someone would privilege one over the other in the first place other than within a specific context. While I'm trying to learn about the practical side of metadata, I'm still thinking about how the way we organize information affects the way we understand it. Since users are the ones assigning metadata in some areas (e.g. flickr), is metadata going to become more visible in other areas?
The more I use sites that include convenient and extrememly visible metadata, the more I expect metadata everywhere (it is everywhere, but what I expect is the ability to control it and search it everywhere); it's affecting the way I read and write. As I was curled up on the couch with Ambient Findability this afternoon, I kept wishing I could tag passages and search for them later. I wrote a letter to a friend and wanted to overlay a piece of tracing paper to explain what I really meant by some of the words I was writing. Update: People are doing something similar to this idea of applying metadata to the physical world. Check out Semapedia.