What’s the Story About Metadata and a Record?
I read an article published by the State and Local Records Management organization in Texas. What surprised me is that the author went to great pains to explain, and did it very well, why metadata is so important. Since I live and breathe metadata, I thought everyone knew of its importance. Guess not. Hence this blog.
The author said he was frequently asked whether metadata was a part of an electronic record and why. Of course, he used the proverbial ‘metadata is data about data’ statement. Clear as mud, if you have no clue what metadata is. What did make sense though is that metadata gives context to the record. Now this I can identify with.
Since our software can generate multi-term metadata from what is in the content, the record will be complete and granular. If you provide your search engine with multi-term metadata, the result is better findability when you are seeking that specific record, as you can use phrases, subjects, topics, or even concepts. As the metadata must remain attached to the record, it will be findable. If all your records have meaningful metadata attached, this will also serve you well in any compliance or governance initiatives.
Metadata also adds provenance to the record and ‘proves’ the record is legitimate. The example used in the article was, “Stripping the metadata from an electronic record is like sending an email without a sender, creation date, or subject line. It is impossible to authenticate the validity of the information. So, it is crucial for metadata to be part of an electronic record to give the record context and to authenticate the information.” Well said.
The combination of automatically generated multi-term metadata and auto-categorization to one or more taxonomies improves not only records management but also a host of applications that require the use of metadata. Erroneous manual tagging or reliance on system generated metadata places organizations in a high-risk environment, as decisions are made on inadequate or incomplete information. There’s already enough organizational risk. Why not eliminate one of the sources?