Martin Dow, of MediaMixer partner Acuity Unlimited, was asked to give a short talk on the subject of “Web Semantics”, as it might apply to the FOCAL audience, at the FOCAL conference on 10 July in London, “Metadata and Why it is Important”.

The talk was billed under the “New Developments” section. The focus of the talk was to briefly introduce what “web semantics” referred to, to highlight recent achievements in institutional archival practices through engineering with the web architecture, and how the properties of the web might help realise scale and reuse – particularly through the property of enabling cooperation without coordination, the separation of concerns for metadata acquisition, preservation and reuse.

The conference attracted FOCAL professionals: archive owners, managers, technical staff and archive researchers/archive producers. Some, for example from major broadcast archives, were already familiar with semantic web concepts, whilst for others the concepts were of interest but the practice still seemed quite distant from tape- and file- based day-to-day environments. The New Developments section also featured talks from Godfrey Rust, leading data modelling challenges for the Linked Content Coalition and the UK Copyright Hu, an organisationally and technically coordinated “hub” solution to interoperable rights metadata, and Mark Vermaat of SilverMouse regarding content identifiers. The programme was broad in scope, with sessions from industry expert Carol Owen and Sara Hill from services organisation Prime Focus, case studies from AP and ITV, industry experts Richard Wright on realities of working with legacy formats in a file-based broadcast environment, Paul Collard on his product’s metadata interface for digitisation work, “data wrangling” at the BBC, and an insightful session around archive research practices, with Matthew Butson from Getty Images. Given the semantic web is capable of generically representing all kinds of structured metadata, current and emergent industry practices are important to MediaMixer’s future understanding of the maturity models required to engage within these industry segments.