Aaah, Metadata: the word we use to describe the way we categorize information on a computer. Metadata can be a title, date or file type. It can be information that the computer automatically creates and attaches to a file every time a change is made. But when librarians talk about metadata, they mean words that they assign to a filing index to describe its contents so that it can be easily found later.
In a meeting with other archivists and librarians at work, the discussion about metadata shifted from objects, people, and places to something a little more abstract. Can you index emotion?
There are so many words in the English language that are emotionally charged. Sadness, happiness, love, hate, courage, fear. And each word has its own nuances and relations. For example, depression and mourning are variations of sadness, but both mean something completely different. The problem here lies in a person’s interpretation of an emotion. If you look at a picture of someone smiling, one person might call it happy while another might see ecstasy, and a third indifference. The differences in perception do not mean that one description is wrong and the other is correct, but it does defeat the purpose. If metadata exists to make digital files easier to identify and retrieve, information that is relative to the user can only lead to confusing records.
So while it’s entirely possible to turn emotion into keywords, they do not make a feasible method of categorization. I think that using such strong, personal words in this way deprives them of their meaning and takes the integrity from the assets they are trying to describe.