META + DATA = INFORMATION ABOUT DATA

In English grammar, the term “adjective” means a word or a group of words that describe a noun in any given sentence. “I just bought a new laptop” – in this sentence, the word “laptop” is the noun while “new” is the adjective.  In technology, on the other hand, there is one term that describes any given information – may it be an individual datum, content datum or a collection of data. It is also being used to facilitate the characteristics, understanding and management usage of data. In essence, it is a text document that describes the “who”, “what”, “where”, “when”, “why” and “how” questions about the data. Such a term is called “metadata”.

The term “meta” comes from a Greek word that means “alongside with, after or next”, thus metadata is sometimes called “data about data”. It can be classified into three types: (a) Content – describes the resource or its content; (b) Mutability – can be either immutable or mutable; and (c) Logical function – can be sub-symbolic (contains the raw data), symbolic (metadata describing the raw data) or logical (metadata that allows logical reasoning). Since it provides context for data, it has a lot of uses specifically in Information Technology.

When computer files are being talked about, metadata includes such information like the type of file, its name, size and author. Metadata is also being used in photography, wherein it displays the date the image was captured and other details of the camera settings that include focal length, lens, shutter timing, etc. In entertainment, the album names, song titles and artists embedded in music files are also called metadata. Indeed, metadata is being used in a lot of different applications, therefore making it easier for users to identify and make use of data.