Simple Metadata Definition: An Introduction

Metadata is the short description of data to make information readily recognizable to users.  It is the data embedded in the data.  For example, a simple document can have a metadata describing its content, who wrote it, the date of its creation and how long the document is.  The format of the document can also be included in the metadata.  Essentially, metadata will provide basic information unique to the document.  Users therefore can determine if the information will be useful for them.

Essentially, metadata is a critical piece of data to simplify the discovery of information.  This is especially useful today because information overload is a common occurrence in an information society.  With lots of information available to users, metadata schemas can provide a more focused search.  So instead or reading the entire document to discover its content, users can simply look at its metadata to know the information that can be found in its pages.

Metadata can be utilized on almost every type of digital media.  There are available tools today that can be used to generate metadata.  There are standalone applications designed to create metadata information for electronic media.  Some programs however can have their own metadata utility that automatically generates information for the created media.

Metadata can be embedded on a webpage or it can be written as a separate markup page that can be displayed independently on a browser and pointing to a specific resource.  If used on websites, it will not show on the interface but it could be read by the search engines for indexing purposes.