Geert Lovink and Yuk Hui: Digital Objects and Metadata Schemes

Yuk Hui: “Indeed, ontologies can be simply described as metadata schemes, which define and hence give meaning to data. Beware: the term “ontology” here is different from how it is randomly used in the humanities today. I describe this evolution of metadata schemes as a genesis of digital objects, and we can see that with the ontologies of the semantic web, descriptions of data are more refined, and the objectness of these entities becomes very clear. I remember already in 2010, during a conference on the semantic web, an engineer said that we were no longer dealing with mere data, but things, in the sense that data had become things. And if we pay attention to what this means, we see that it is not simply about how to do categorization—though categorization remains a crucial question and practice. It is also that categorization becomes productive. It produces objects in their own right, like Kant’s concepts, and these objects are both real and material. In this sense we can talk about the onto-genesis of digital objects.”

Read the full interview in e-flux, Journal #78 – December 2016

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