Metadata is everywhere; it is part of almost everything you do online whether it is searching, shopping or listening to music. But what is it? DataInformed brought this news to us in their article, “What Is Metadata? A Simple Guide to What Everyone Should Know.”
Metadata is data that describes other data. In information technology, the prefix meta means “an underlying definition or description.” Metadata describes whatever piece of data it happens to be connected to, and we mean everything.
Since metadata summarizes basic information about data, such as type of asset, author, date created, usage, and file size, metadata is crucial to the efficiency of information systems to classify and categorize data.
Is metadata still needed in a big data world? Of course. Metadata is actually more important (if that was possible) in a big data world because it can provide a competitive advantage.
As each new big data initiative is launched, it is essential to accompany it with a comprehensive metadata management strategy to maintain consistency.
Melody K. Smith
Sponsored by Access Innovations, the world leader in taxonomies, metadata, and semantic enrichment to make your content findable.
So a subject’s:
– categorization context is provided by a taxonomy,
– equivalence context is provided by a thesaurus,
– containment context is provided by structural models,
– sequence context is provided by process models,
– version context is provided by change models,
– variation context is provided by branching models, and
– description context is provided by attributes, articles, encyclopedia, references, and media.
So meta is context (e.g., container, connector, carrier), providing intelligence about a subject’s content.
From another perspective, using another vocabulary, an asset has content, and the asset’s configuration (its context or meta) identifies the asset’s containers, connectors, and carriers, represented in a “configuration management database” (CMDB).
Consider that the meta (or context) of a signal is data, the meta of data is information, the meta of information is knowledge, the meta of knowledge is intellect, the meta of intellect is awareness, the meta of awareness is wisdom, and the meta of wisdom is consciousness, each progressively adding to intelligence.
If one considers data to be our “content”, then metadata can be considered as “containers”, “connectors”, and “carriers” of that content, representing the container’s structure of data fields/relations/attributes, the connecting interfaces’ data exchanges, and the data-communication and telecom-communication network carriers.
I’ve used this characterization for a few decades, and it seems to provide a more recognizable concept.