In an ah-ha moment, I realized this week that metadata helps us make sense of the world. By connecting disparate information (interoperability), it can show relationships and trends to generate insights.
Funders can use metadata on journal articles — unique identifiers for articles, authors, and data sets, for example — to track the scholarly research generated by their investment and perhaps tie it to societal impacts. Companies can bring together information from spreadsheets, systems, and databases in different departments to make strategic decisions. Even individuals can use metadata to define (through categorizations of daily activities) and map their lives.
Anne J. Gilliland in “Setting the Stage” writes that metadata “provides us with the Rosetta stone that will make it possible to decode information objects and their transformation into knowledge…” I wholeheartedly agree.