Editorial: Will mp generate ISO metadata?

A user outside USGS asked:
Is mp going to support ISO export?

Reply by Peter Schweitzer on 14 Dec 2001:

I have no current plans to do this because I cannot honestly see a good reason to spend the time doing it. What benefit would there be for anyone to migrate to ISO metadata? It doesn't even have a place to store the units of the attribute data! I'm willing to listen to well-reasoned arguments, but the claim that OMB circular A-119 requires us to use ISO is simply wrong--it doesn't say that. The problems that our metadata users and producers have with the FGDC standard could be solved with a revision and use of the new remote sensing profile.

Those pushing ISO seem to forget the resistance we all found when we introduced the FGDC standard. Now we have vastly superior documentation, explanations, tools, training, and community awareness supporting FGDC. Teaching people and leading them to create or use metadata is now much easier. But it is easier because we (lots of us) have spent lots of time talking to real users, working up well-written materials and thinking through the problems that people actually found. If you want to get people to use ISO, you need to do for ISO what we did for FGDC, but the result has to show an overwhelming advantage. I believe this will not happen, partly because there is no real advantage to ISO, but mostly because the FGDC standard meets the needs of the geospatial data community.

What FGDC should do is modify its standard in minor ways so that records written for CSDGM3 could be imported into a data store that uses the ISO schema. More substantial changes to the FGDC standard should be made not because ISO dictates them, but because in the past 3 years, we the people who write and read metadata have found things that are hard to encode properly. (For example: Process_Date should allow a range of dates; we need a table of contents and language indicators; Originators should have explicit roles; and a number of mandatory elements should be made optional.)

I would be happy to help bring these changes about, but I will not simply throw away what we have built in the past 6 years. Those of you who wish to promulgate the ISO standard should make your case, not just to me, but to the whole community of geospatial data producers and users. We're listening.