Adobe, Apple, Canon, Microsoft, Nokia, and Sony announced the formation of the Metadata Working Group (MWG) at Photokina recently. The MWG is focused on improving the customer experience with digital media as it move across various devices, operating systems, and online services.
The problem is simple to describe – make sure that when I tag my photos I can view those tags wherever I want. So that when I capture a photo on my phone, add a keyword, then upload it to a sharing site – the online service will display my tags. Similarly when I download the photo and view it on my computer or in my applications, it will also display the information I added.
The challenge is in coordinating and agreeing between different companies on how this is going to happening. The MWG specification is a first step towards handling this for primarily consumer digital images. Recently the effort was endorsed by the IPTC and PLUS organizations.
The specification is pretty technical since it is written for developers so that they can implement the same policies the MWG companies will adopt. The great news is that XMP plays a strong role in the specification, in addition to other standards such as Exif and IPTC.
Participating in the working group discussions was actually a lot of fun. It got very technical and philosophical at times but it was a great feeling knowing that we were all working towards a common goal to improve the lives of our customers.
After all, photos are the gateway to so many of our experiences, and metadata helps us re-tell our story. Preserving that information will be valuable for future generations, just like the notes written on the back of a physical photograph.