Metadata: A Breakdown

One thing I’ve learned from a semester of college is there is a major difference between a “student” and an “academic”. Those who go the extra mile, take on the difficult task of constructing an impeccable resume, immerse themselves in learning and cultivation, are distinguished from those who just go to classes and do homework. While this idea is no profoundly new concept, my discovery of that difference has shifted the way I think about everything. While seemingly disconnected, this realization came to me in learning about metadata. “Metadata” in itself is extremely complex, so thinking about it in this analogy helped to compress and digest that expansive definition. The way I viewed it, metadata can be seen as the student, as a very guileless term lacking dimension, as simply “data about data”. However just as a student can be an academic by loading up on rounded ventures, thus the term metadata can transform by taking on encompassing complexities.

In Database as Genre: The Epic Formation of Archives by Ed Folsom, we see the word metadata take on multiple meanings. Not only does it comprise this “information about information” annotation, but the article goes as far as to say metadata is a tool. Its ability to compartmentalize and categorize information is a instrument that’s useful to virtually anyone from students to historians to professors. Likewise, in this definition metadata seeks to make information more accessible, making resources more reachable to whoever wants to obtain it. Setting the Stage by Anne J. Gilliland adds to the rounded definition by incorporating things like date and context to deem usefulness, as a part of metadata as well. To even further perpetuate its loaded characterization, the article associates a set of standards to help further this understanding. However, despite a very broad and multifaceted role that metadata plays, to my understanding metadata has a single takeaway: that its seeking to shift the way information is processed, used, and reached as we shift into a digitalized era.

About Makiah Belk

Study of the Americas
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One Response to Metadata: A Breakdown

  1. Krista Harder says:

    Your comparison about the basic student and the above-and-beyond academic is a fascinating one. As we talked about in class, metadata seems to be involved in virtually anything that we can imagine. And because it’s involved in virtually everything, that means that it itself can be virtually anything, and also that it can be simple or enormously complex. You say that your discovery of the difference between a “student” and an “academic” has changed the way that you think about everything, and the same can be said about looking at the world through the perspective of metadata. Once you look beyond just content and into metadata, you can see how thoroughly subjective every aspect of our society is. The way we organize and describe the world and its inhabitants has just as much to do with who we are and who we will become as the very things that we are organizing and describing. Viewing the world through a lens of metadata shows how pervasive bias is throughout every aspect of our society, and it’s so fascinating to look into this often ignored part of rhetoric. Once you’re aware, it’s hard to go back to ignoring it.

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