Metadata meaning

What  is metadata meaning?

Metadata meaning explained

Broadly speaking, the meaning of Metadata is the type of data which can be utilized for the description of other data. A summary of data’s basic information is provided by Metadata, and this information makes the finding as well as working easier for specific instances of data. Few of the data characteristics that can be described by Metadata are the actual creators of data, contents of data files, date of data generation, location of data generation, the purpose of data generation, and the way of data generation. Thus, as per the generic Metadata meaning, Metadata essentially provides the footprints of generated data. 

The simplest Metadata example of a webpage is the information specific to the software language that has been used to create the webpage, the tools that have been used for the creation of webpage, the subject that the webpage discusses, and the locations where further information about the subject can be found. This particular information helps to bring about an improvement in the overall experience of the readers, and also makes it simpler to locate the specific webpage online. 

Similarly, a music CD may contain a Metadata file that provides useful information related to the singers, or the musicians, or the writers of the songs that are contained within the CD. Taking a further example of image Metadata sample, the Metadata that is included in a digital image can potentially describe the size of the image, resolution of the picture, image creation date, colour depth, speed of the camera shutter, and so on. There are many metadata tools available which can be used to for metadata search, and edit the metadata information in order to prevent personal information of users from being shared electronically. Computer programs like metadata editors or metadata viewers help to edit tags in image files, which can then be saved as separate graphic files.

Metadata standards

How does Metadata work?

In order to properly define the Metadata, it is essential that Metadata standards are established. Establishing the standards of Metadata helps to arrive at a common understanding of the attributes of data, and how the data and Metadata are actually interpreted by data owners as well as the users. The elements of Metadata that are clubbed into various sets, each with a particular purpose, are referred to as Metadata schemes. Generally, each element provides the name as well as the semantics necessarily, while optionally, rules of the content and representation along with values of the element can also be specified. Languages such as XML (Extensible Markup Language) or SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language) are used for the specification of the syntax by multiple schemas currently. A few examples of the Metadata standards, which are available and maintained by organizations such Dublin Core Metadata Initiative and ISO, are DDI, EAD, CDWA, EML, CWM, DOI, RDF, and so on.

Metadata types

Metadata type definition

After getting to know what is metadata meaning, the next step in understanding the use of Metadata is to have the knowledge of the various types of Metadata. Descriptive metadata is used for the description of resources for the reason of identifying as well as discovering the data. The main inclusions in this category are the author, title, keywords and the abstract of the data. Structural Metadata provides an indication on the manner in which various compound objects are collated; an example being the grouping of pages to generate chapters. Administrative Metadata indicates information that is useful in the management of resources, and few examples are the information related to date of creation of data, type of file, the purpose of creation and other technical information. 
It is to be noted that the technical information present in the metadata can be captured automatically be softwares designed for that purpose, and hence it sometimes may become a security issue. Apart from the types of metadata discussed above, an important category of metadata is document metadata. Document metadata provides information relevant to a document that is not usually visible overtly, and attaches it as a separate file that is generally a textual file. Narrowing the explanation of document metadata to a specific example of word metadata, the document metadata of a Microsoft Word file contains references to various document properties such as creation date, author name, recent modification details, tags, titles etc. Apart from these specific features that are available in Word, such as Track changes, also generate metadata whenever there is a deletion of text, or comment exchanges among editors.

What is metadata used for?

The biggest question that usually arises in the minds of the users is why use metadata. The major usage of Metadata, and it comes from the inherent Metadata meaning, is its employment for finding the locations of the resources. Apart from finding the location of resources, Metadata data can be effectively utilized for the discovery of resources. By discovery of resources, it is meant that one can find resources which are pertinent to the research being made, but about which one may not be aware of. Also, by using Metadata, it is not only possible to find and use data, but also to preserve it and reuse it in future operations.

Another question that arises with the respect to metadata relates to how to use the metadata. Metadata works by filling pertinent information in the metadata fields, which is then used by applications in appropriate ways to serve their purpose. Taking the example of usage of metadata in database applications, custom applications make use of tables that are predefined with an already defined set of operations on those tables; with the result that metadata is usually hard coded in them. On the other hand, generic applications usually provide support for queries that are ad hoc in nature, and thus, the resultant metadata is dynamic and unknown. All of these applications refer to the column data type in order to move forward with operations that are specific to the result sets.