"Cracking" Metadata: Lessons Learned at the BBC

by Karen Loasby

with commentary by Jean Graef (in blue text)

In this article, Karen describes how metadata practices have evolved at the British Broadcasting System:

  • why metadata became a priority for senior executives;
  • how the BBC uses metadata;
  • how metadata is created and reviewed;
  • strategies for getting authors to enter high quality metadata.

The article concludes with a Q&A with Jean about her tools and future plans.

How metadata became a management priority
“Cracking metadata” is a priority for the BBC’s Director General, Mark Thompson. Thompson may have intended us to interpret ‘cracking’ as a verb, with metadata seen as a problem to be solved (see Creative Future - BBC addresses creative challenges of on-demand). I prefer to think he meant it as an adjective, perhaps in homage to Wallace & Gromit and their “cracking cheese."

Either way, it is clear that something has changed since I joined the BBC in 2001. Back then, it was hard to imagine metadata being a topic on the Director General’s mind, let alone in his speeches. Today, it appears that we have executive buy-in for the importance of metadata, but to deliver the strategic benefits we also need the staff on the ground to accept the concept.

Created on January 1, 2007 l Updated on July 29, 2008