Metadata is described by AIIM as the structured information about a document, data or other information content. Examples of metadata are author, title, subject keywords, date of publication, security classification, access permissions, and rights information and so on.
Metadata (data about data) is traditionally found in card catalogs in libraries. With the age of digital documents, metadata is used to describe the content of these documents.
A metadata framework is an organised table that specify what data will be collected, how it will be defined, how it will be gathered and what purpose it would serve.
Four functions of Metadata include;
1. Identify Content
Metadata identifies content to give it a unique characterisation distinguishing it from other pieces of content.
Identification metadata is descript metadata, and can include elements such as:
Unique resource identifier (URI); Filename or file reference number; Author; Title
2. Manage Content
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Metadata plays a very important function in helping systems manage content. This is so that the system knows, for example, who should have access to the document, which applications should be used to display the file, what operations should be conducted on a file at given times or within certain workflows.
In this function, administrative and structural metadata capture things like:
Version number; Archiving date; Security and access permissions; Rights management settings; Retention schedule; File format; Linked resources
3. Retrieve Content
Helping users to find and retrieve content is the function of metadata that is most closely connected with taxonomies.
In this function, descriptive metadata includes things like:
Taxonomy topics; Subject keywords added by users; Document descriptions
4. Track usage of content
A more sophisticated use of metadata is to track the usage of a document and to connect content to other content. A well-known example of this is the Amazon message “people who bought this book also bought…” This information is collected automatically by the system and it associates content based on tracking user behaviours upon the content.
In this function, examples of usage metadata might be:
User ratings; Downloads data (who has downloaded it, or how often); Forwarding data (who has forwarded it, to whom); Search terms (search terms used immediately prior to a download); Links data (number and source of hyperlinks pointing to the content; links from the content to other pieces of content)