CrossRef, the group that brought you digital object identifiers (DOIs), plagiarism detection (CrossCheck), and status lookup (CrossMark) is developing a character to teach children that metadata is fun.
Starting this summer, children will be invited to join Geoff the Bilder on adventures to fix broken links, detect copy-and-paste authorship, and redirect readers to status updates.
“Construction isn’t just about bricks and mortar,” remarked Ed Pentz, Director of CrossRef. “Building metadata standards is just as important. However, Geoff the Bilder can also fix a leaky faucet and put up drywall.”
Concerned that publishing is losing out to other lucrative career options, Geoff the Bilder was conceived to inspire career choices later on in life. With employment in the traditional construction industry at a 30-year low, the team behind the new cartoon thought it seemed counterproductive to promote a trade with an uncertain future. “Children need to think digital, not dump trucks,” commented Pentz.
“We’re a greying profession,” noted Bob Campbell, CrossRef board member and publisher at Wiley. “We have to do something to inspire the children and prevent them from going into international banking, hedge fund managing, or any of that other jiggery-pokery.”
Beta-tested in the UK to follow Maisy Mouse, Geoff the Bilder is targeted toward toddlers and young children.
“My son’s first words were ‘XML schema.’ It brought tears to my eyes,” wrote Iain Craig, director of market research for Wiley and father of two. “Next week, I’m ripping out the sandbox and teaching him source code.”
While Geoff the Bilder appears to be marketing success, other attempts to broaden the scope of CrossRef have not gone so smothly, such as CrossDress, a failed attempt to merge metadata and fashion.
(Thanks to Ruth Isaacson and Jay Lenox for their Photoshopping skills!)