I found this on the inside of a 1950’s recording of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos. It struck me that this pattern closely matches what you see when you “Get Info” for your songs in iTunes (or, for that matter, in any music management software).
It further struck me that metadata, and the graphic design thereof, has a vast history in print that is probably worth exploring very deeply when we design metadata displays for the screen. The use of the phrase “see reverse side” in the Bach data grid made me think that in the pre-digital era (not so many millions of years ago) there were probably hundreds of different solutions for connecting multivariant metadata storage systems to each other, many of which are mirrored in today’s digital systems whether we know it or not. For example, the system above reminds me of a relational database, which wasn’t really invented until 1970 (a few months, I suppose, before I was born).
From now on I’m going to keep my eyes open for old-fashioned metadata display systems and maybe share them here when I come across them. If you can recommend any, I’d love to see it, too.
I suppose this would be the ultimate example?
A good library had multiple cross-referenced catalogs organized by author, title, and subject, permitting you to query in multiple ways.
And though you probably wouldn’t think of a card catalog as a very dynamic medium, it’s obvious quite annotatable.
My image tag didn’t work. It’s here:
@Lauren Steely: Card catalogs are exactly what I was thinking about. Also if you go into any old stationary stores you’ll find tons of forms, labels, tags (literally!) that manifest archaic metadata systems. Love it.
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