Do you write collection descriptions?
If it is your job to write collection descriptions, then why not make your collection description work for you? Imagine your collection being discoverable through not just your OWN web pages but through search engines and other search tools!
You put a lot of time and effort into writing your descriptions, including all the information that you believe lends weight to the existence of your collection. You probably even have to justify budget spending for your collections. I am not about to suggest that a self-description will make your budget increase or make all those political battles disappear, but it can be used to make your collection more widely known to potential users! And after all, one of the strongest arguments in favour of any collection is the use it gets.
But what is this self-description thing?
A self description is based on a microformat. Microformats are defined by microformats.org as being:
Designed for humans first and machines second, microformats are a set of simple, open data formats built upon existing and widely adopted standards. Instead of throwing away what works today, microformats intend to solve simpler problems first by adapting to current behaviors and usage patterns (e.g. XHTML, blogging).
Self-description aims to follow this model, allowing your existing collection descriptions to be enhanced, and the data contained within them to be accessed by machines.
What do I have to do?
Before you use the editor, we recommend that you look at the self-description microformat primer. This will give you a good idea as to the structure you might like to use. As with all things metadata, there are sometimes grey areas, so you may also wish to look at the full documentation to see what classes are available and what they mean.
It is as easy as cut and paste. Using the EgoDesc self-description editor you can easily paste your existing collection description into the left hand scratchpad and start editing straight away. Then all you need do is copy the text from the scratchpad back into your existing web pages. A guide to using the editor is available here.
What happens next?
Now that your collection description has become a self-description there is nothing more to do! the mark-up on your web pages can be read by any computer that understands it.
In the future we hope to see other people describing your collections too, from their own viewpoints.