What's a Data Model Worth?

If I had a nickel for everytime some Web publishing manager told me their job requires them to copy and paste content between various Web sites... Well, let's just say, I could buy a lot more stock. :)

I hear about this from friends who work on sites across the industry -- there's lots of mindless manual repurposing of content going on out there. This is a problem on sooo many levels on sooo many sites... not only is it expensive, and time consuming, but it even affects usability of web sites since all that manually repasted data is pretty much trapped in its own little silo never to be used again.

Case in point: I was in a web technology User Committee meeting the other day and the subject came up that we're using two (or three or more?) different tools to create and manage a certain type of product content, with each destination site pretty much storing its own copy of the content.
We're copying and pasting, or building perl scripts to do our data mining. What we really want to do is write it once and reuse it.

A well-respected colleague, Martin Hardee, responded "You know, it really all comes down to data models, right?"

My mind jumped in gear... Maybe these blogs are my chance to make metadata evangelists and data modeling believers out of everyone! (ok, maybe a few, if they start reading!) I know every company has this same challenge. Now thanks to Will and others, we now have a cool place to talk about it.

So yeah, data architecture is what I've been working on here at Sun for the last 1 1/2 years -- metadata and data models. (My previous 4 years were spent managing Web publishing tools for one area of sun.com, so I have the battle scars to understand the importance of data models.) We're breaking down silos of Sun product content, developing XML schemas to drive common elements, driving creation and implementation of hierarchical metadata, and working on creating the tools and services for people to get at this content. But, its challenging.

I'm sure as I get better at this blogging thing, I'll fill you in on what I've been working on and its challenges and triumphs. But first, here's some links you might browse to get up to speed on metadata and data modeling for the Web.

More later...
Kristen

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About

Passionate about data engineering strategy and solutions for Sun’s external web sites. Happiest when building taxonomies, data models, and high performing teams.

Kristen Harris
Director,
Web Data Engineering

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