A quirky new article likens search engines to humongous babies. The article states, “You can’t expect it to understand complicated things. You would never try to teach language to a human baby by reading it Nietzsche, and you shouldn’t expect a baby google to learn bibliographic data by feeding it MARC (or RDA or METS or MODS, or even ONIX). When a baby says ‘goo-goo’ to you, you don’t criticize its misuse of the subjunctive. You say ‘goo-goo’ back. When Google tells you that that it wants to hear ‘schema.org’ microdata, you don’t try to tell it about the first indicator of the 856 ‡u subfield. You give it schema.org microdata, no matter how babyish that seems.”

The article continues, “It’s important to build up a baby’s self-confidence. When baby google expresses interest in the number of pages of a book, you don’t really want to be specifying that there are ix pages numbered with roman numerals and 153 pages with arabic numerals in shorthand code. When baby google wants to know whether a book is ‘family friendly’ you don’t want to tell it about 521 special audience characteristics, you just want to tell it whether or not it’s porn.”

It goes on, “If you haven’t looked at the schema.org model for books, now’s a good time. Don’t expect to find a brilliant model for book metadata, expect to find out what a bibliographic neophyte machine thinks it can use a billion times a day. Schema.org was designed by engineers from Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Remember, their goal in designing it was not to describe things well, it was to make their search results better and easier to use.”

Read how to spoon-feed library data to schema.org here.

Image: Courtesy Flickr/ paprutzi