8 Responses to Metadata, So Mom Can Understand

  1. John Owens says:

    Hi Robert

    Great article.

    My problem with the current trend on the use of Meta Data is that it is moving from “something that helps to better describe the data you’re trying to remember”, which is its correct use, to “something that helps to better describes the thing you are trying to remember”.

    In business the “things”, real or abstract, of significance to an enterprise are the Data Entities. The elements that describe, classify, qualify or quantify these are Attributes of the Entity. The data that describes the structure and form of the Attributes is Meta Data.

    The problem is that Meta Data is more media friendly. No newscasters is going to talk about the ‘attributes and relationships’ of a telephone conversation, when they can the more chic ‘Meta Data’.

    None of this really matters in the world at large, but when practitioners in Data Quality start misusing these terms then Data Quality is in trouble.

    Again, great article.


    • Rob Karel says:

      Hi John – All great points. I do think it’s very funny that you find metadata to be a “media friendly” term. I never heard anyone call metadata a friendly, chic term for anyone! But you’re right that the media likes to sound smart, especially on topics they truly don’t understand. :-)
      Thanks again

  2. John Schmidt says:

    Here is another metaphor to help your mother. A library full of books is a good thing, unless you can’t find the book you need. The books store the information or the data you need. But in order to find a book, you need a card catalogue (metadata) which, using the Dewey Decimal System quickly tells you where it is on which the shelf. If the book is not on the shelf, there is more metadata that can help – the Library Management System which identifies who borrowed it last and what date it is expected to be returned.

    • Rob Karel says:

      Great analogy John, and an apt one since the metadata owners in the world of content are often known as “Data Librarians”!

  3. Thank you Rob!

    In the words of Doctor Doolittle, ” I think she’s got it”!

    Kathy Salomone

    • Gary S says:

      It was Professor Henry Higgins discoursing with Colonel Pickering, right? Regarding Eliza Doolittle?

      Dr. Dolittle talked to the animals, although probably neither about their Cockney accents, the rain in Spain, nor metadata. :-)

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