I remember learning about MARC in one of first courses in SLIS. We had to create MARC records for different books that we had at home. There were so many fields, and it was interesting, but it wanted to do too much. For a DVD or a photograph, I got lost trying to put together a decent record. My worry is that attempting to shove together each of the descriptive and technical schemes from the articles, we’ll end up with another mish-mash of tags. They may all be decipherable through XML and they may all be helpful to someone, but trying to shoehorn an odd item into it will be just as difficult as using MARC in an advancing world.
Omeka’s page and a half about the way they suggest using DC within their software is pretty telling about DC’s short-comings, but it serves a purpose. It may not let you enter everything you’ve ever wanted about an item, but it allows the data to be manageable and for the data to be used.
The use of XML will help us to expand our abilities with digital libraries, and we still need standardization, I just don’t think it can be a global standard. The Lego analogy is fairly apt. If I have a large collection of LPs and laser discs, I probably won’t be using DC, I’ll want something more suited to those specific types of items. My “meta-utopia” to crib a word from Doctorow would be to have a large pool of metadata elements (like MARC), but with small collections that are pulled together for specific types of items. This would allow libraries to turn on collections of elements without allowing librarians to enter data in unused elements. It would allow libraries to dictate the elements that showed up during data entry based on the type of item. It would let libraries use the same element across item types for basic elements like “creation date” and “creator”. The entire structure would be dealt with through XML so that users wouldn’t need to learn a structure or standard for entry and organization for each new type of item.
And of course everyone would adopt the system and no one would be scared of the change and everyone would willingly give up their carefully honed individually created schemes…