Our three articles this week provided a practical description of metadata in relation to the information object. I especially enjoyed reading Anne J. Gilliland’s Setting the Stage because it addressed the history of metadata. As information sites have become increasingly digital, our use of metadata has to be reconsidered.
Metadata mining is now a moral topic as we debate issues of security and privacy. As Gilliland mentions: “….The more highly structured an information object is, the more that structure can be exploited for searching, manipulation, and interrelating with other information objects.” Patterns are more easily recognized and interpreted, this can inspire cultural projects like the What in the WorldCat series, which can highlight anthropological patterns in history. Or, there are more the more controversial uses led by capitalist or political motivation.
In this same way, metadata grows in definition. Suddenly it “not only identifies and describes an information object; it also documents how that object behaves, its function and use, its relationship to other information objects, and how it should be and has been managed over time,” moving to encompass HTML meta tags, system descriptions, and objects for information retrieval. In this way, metadata becomes an interest for even those of us in class who believe cataloguing isn’t in our future. It is a crucial component of digital collections and our Internet workspace.