Definition: Metadata

Metadata is the underlying definition or the crisp description of what a specific file holds within it (which is called data). Metadata is specific information about the data regarding length, description, and characteristics of data. Similar to how a quality product packaging tells what a customer can expect from the product wrapped inside, a well-written and properly structured metadata describes the gist of the data collected. 

For instance, you will notice that if a photograph is uploaded on the internet, it has several details (date, time, filename, geolocation, etc). Similar is the case with a published book, a blog, or a web page. Furthermore, every blog or website needs to have well-thought metadata which fits the requirements of standard metadata fields. 

Besides these, there are a number of times when metadata is present right in front of an individual but is often masked – while you are sending an email, creating a spreadsheet, or even saving a file on your computer, to name a few instances. Furthermore, metadata is not limited to digital files or data, it is used in hard copies as well. For instance, the logo design and product details on Apple’s packaging design copies are also considered metadata. 

The Role of Metadata 

As discussed, metadata is data that describes collected data, it is not data on its own. As it is not the entirety of the data, this metadata can be made public for many business-centric purposes without having to risk the data itself. 

It can be used to identify resources, give and refer criteria, categorize different resources to conduct comparisons, and distinguish one piece of data from another. All in all, metadata is crucial to understand, organize, and manage resources. Metadata is undeniably essential given the growth and usage of web-based resources and data in today’s digitized world. By using metadata, an individual makes sure that the data (which is wrapped in metadata) is understood not only by humans but also by machines. 

From digital asset management to the identification of files, metadata is more crucial than many of us realize. Along these lines, it is safe to say that metadata is important not only to protect the resources we have been collecting but also to preserve them for the accessibility of future generations. All the elements of metadata are linked to extending the longevity and understanding of the data, which pays off in multiple ways presently and in the future as well.

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