You publish your photo on facebook or Instagram and if I ask you about the content you have published you’d tell me: nothing special. Just a photo from my birthday party.
You retweet an interesting quote from Albert Einstein which I have tweeted last night and will tell me that I have enjoyed the quote and retweeted it. Most of us forget that we are generating some extra contents in this process.
Let’s take a look at the other contents transmitted, besides your favorite quote (you can click on the image to see the larger version):
Some of the above data such as the bounding box coordinated and may not be so interesting for you. But there are much more amazing data attached to a single 140 character tweet.
The same story holds true for every single piece of content we create. When you like a post on facebook or Instagram, besides this single like, you have generated many other data which the time of action and ip of your connection are just the most obvious ones.
The same happens when you make a pdf or word file on your computer and the author name and creation data and many other data are also written in your file. Even in a single photo you have taken with you camera, there are other information stored, including but not limited to: time of taking the photo, type of the camera and exposure setting.
Metadata can be defined as data about the data as it is stated in wikipedia article about metadata. This term was originated in the 1970s when database and database management became a popular practice. The database was supposed to be filled with data, but database managers had to store some descriptions about that data too.
With the enhancement of digital storage technology and emerging new content types, the concept of metadata received more attention.
NISO has published a very helpful document called understanding metadata and three different types of metadata are introduced there: Descriptive, Structural, and Administrative.
Metadata can be produced manually or automatically. Title of this post is a descriptive metadata I have chosen by myself. Tags I have added to this post (data, metadata, definition) are other descriptive metadata provided by me to ease your access to the other similar content in this blog.
Publish date and post url (http://www.shabanali.com/en/?p=501) are samples of the automatically generated administrative metadata. Table of contents in a book can be considered as manually created structural metadata as it has no new data, but it helps the reader for better understanding of the book structure.
Content strategists prefer to use the term metacontent instead of metadata as a more general term, although metadata is still a much more popular term.
After this introductory article, in future articles I will talk about current metadata trends such as:
- Our faster move toward data explosion as the unavoidable consequence of the automatically generated metadata
- The rise of big data analysis and thirsty analysts looking for metadata everywhere
- The threats of privacy for most of the web users as they are becoming prosumers without any knowledge about by-products of these newly emerged small content factories.