Metadata and experience

From Iris Garrelfs

Yesterday, Thanasis and I met briefly to further discuss the nature and role of “experience” in relation to matadata. Not an easy subject to get one’s head around, but necessary as in my experience (no pun intended) sensorial experiences such as listening or touching can be an important input to making work.

Grappling with the question of what exactly we might want or indeed need to capture under this heading, we looked at a few examples based on another area we had previously identified as one that metadata in creative domains might be recruited from (see graphic below).


For instance, in the realm of technique aspects such as muscle memory or motor skills arrived at from having experienced something many times over plays a significant role – think me playing the violin (better not) or Yehudi Menuhin. Joking aside, such “experiential objects” could be important for other domains, for example in identifying what practical skills are needed to carry out specific experiments efficiently.

screenshot experience

The direct sensorial experiences I mentioned earlier, of course, are of an ongoing nature, and fiendishly difficult to observe, especially without practice, let alone to record. However, specific sensorial conditions, perhaps in the form of effects that particular locations/conditions have on the participants concerned, may encourage certain outcomes and therefore need stating. Some of these may even lead to somewhat longer term states which may be relevant – the domain of psychology springs to mind.

As a result of this meeting, we felt that the term “experience” is perhaps not quite the perfect fit for the task and I will revisit literature from the field of embodied cognition for further ideas ( That said, the way we are looking at it at the moment is that, even if we do label this potential metadata field “experience”, we need to provide a set of examples in the active metadata guidance document, to be produced in the near future. Perhaps this document might also contain suggestions as to how ”experience” could be recorded/coded in a meaningful way.

Very much to be continued. In the meantime, comments and ideas are warmly welcomed.

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