One of the reasons Dublin Core was created was to provide a set of access points that would work across any object. The result was a list of 15 access points, all of which are optional and repeatable. I didn’t think we could reduce this number.
The Kernel Metadata and Electronic Resource Citations scheme is intriguing in that it provides just 4 access points — who, what where, and when. (Future extensions also include how and why.) The goal of this project:
Kernel metadata is designed to assist orderly collection management by supporting the creation of brief but highly uniform object descriptions that can be listed, surveyed, and searched efficiently during normal collection maintenance and trouble-shooting activities. These descriptions serve as object surrogates that are convenient for automated sorting and filtering operations and are also eye-readable without specialized display software. The idea is to balance the needs for expressive power, very simple machine processing, and direct human manipulation of metadata records.
As I read through this scheme, one thing caught my eye. In cataloging using current metadata schemes, we prefer to provide a record for each instance of a work. So, we have a record for the original book, one for the scanned book, one for the audiobook, one for the movie based on the book, etc.
In this scheme, the access points who, what, and when should always be based on the original work; where should link you to the instance you have. So, who, what, and when could describe the original Gutenberg Bible, but where could link you to a digital representation of it. There seems to be less focus on the details and more on access to the object itself.
That said, it is expected that these access points will be used with other metadata schemes. Interesting idea from the California Digital Library!