AbstractThis paper proposes a visualisation of interoperability to assist real-world deployment of metadata. For some time, resource managers in many organisations have been acting on faith, creating 'standards compliant' metadata with the aim of exposing their resources to provide interoperability in discovery activities. In some cases, their faith has led them to miss the very essence of the work they are doing, and they have not got what they worked for. The authors report a case study involving government agencies in Victoria, Australia. A number of departmental agencies have implemented, more or less, the DC-based Australian Government Locator Service (AGLS) application profile, at least for their web resources. They have done this with care and precision, with the long-term aim of developing a fully interoperable system. In the case study, typical would-be records for seven government departments were studied and it was shown that the tiniest, and typical, variation in use of the standard can be expected to thwart the aimsof interoperability in significant ways. In the context of the government’s move to seeking interoperable metadata for all resources, including those within document management systems, the authors make visible how a small 'creep' can lead away from interoperability and how it might be contained in the future. They use a 3-step approach of 'aggregation, rationalisation and harmonisation' to expose the problems with 'nearly good enough' interoperability and the benefits of good interoperability, and encourage true harmonisation.
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