What is Metadata?
Metadata is data which provides information about other data. Metadata is most often used in digital files where it is used to describe information about the file, such as the file’s author and creation date. It can include other types of data as well, depending on the metadata type. Types of metadata that can be found in digital files include file name, file size, date modified, location on disk, and file hash. The six types of metadata are structural, descriptive, preservation, administrative, provenance, and definitional. Metadata has the following functions:
Organization and description. Metadata describes and orders data resources in a metadata repository. The information within a metadata repository is organized based on either audience or topic, and is organized hierarchically by dynamically constructing pages using information stored in the database. New metadata may be produced through registration, cataloging, and indexing.
Search. Descriptive metadata helps users to locate and retrieve data resources, allowing for similar resources to be grouped together.
Utilization. Metadata helps with the tracking of the life cycle of a data resource by monitoring its modification, permissions management, and version management. Numerous iterations of a data resource may be developed for preservation, study, or product development. Metadata is essential for preservation and accessibility in the future, as it allows for data resource maintenance and includes information needed to trace background and describe physical properties.
Interoperability. By using established metadata schemes across systems and platforms, data resources can be more easily shared.
Metadata is most often used in the following enterprise applications:
Website search. Websites are embedded with metadata that informs their ranking, so webpages are often built with metadata details such as meta titles and meta descriptions that provide the page’s topic and contents. A meta tag appears on the page’s code to assist search engines in the categorization of the page.
Social media. Social media metadata allows users to optimize their content to get more interactions.
Markup languages. Markup languages allow users to identify elements of a document, such as paragraphs or headers, and allows users to search for keywords across documents.
Database management. Metadata in a database management system consists of a column name and row number and will be attached to the data piece. Metadata can be a directory in a database that allows users to sort and filter data by type or establish relationships between different datasets.
Consumer tracking. Retail and shopping websites often use metadata to track consumer habits and movements, collecting data such as locations, purchases, device type, clicks, and website visits.
Information classification. Users can embed classification information into the content or in an external content management system.