Why does metadata matter?
Metadata in its most simplest definition is ‘data about data’. The data that Metadata is about is literally any kind of informational data. Whether it is a book, article, image, audio, any sort of file that can be classified as data, can be investigated even further. That sub information, is metadata.
Now your first question is probably ‘Why?” right? Why did historians decide to find out more information about the information that is searched daily? It sounds a little like busy work at first, until you understand what they are searching for in this data. The first thing that metadata looks for in data is ‘descriptive information and context’.
Descriptive information and context about the data is crucial in finding the most important parts in a file; metadata looks to find the summation of the file itself. It includes notes about the data, a description of what is in the data, and the subjects discussed in the data. Sometimes it will also have the format of the data, the file’s rights info, and even database where you found the data at.
The way metadata files the data makes it very easy on you when you are looking up a specific file. If you already have an idea of what file you are searching for, lets use a historical document as example: You can search for metadata that comes from the Library of Congress, what date the data might have been filed, if the data is a book or one single piece of information, the author, title, and if you have it, even the publisher.
This is amazing, and metadata matters for historians. It matters for them because with the way our history has evolved into a more digitized system, it becomes increasingly difficult for historians to find the exact files they are looking for.Everything gets clogged up with tags for social media purposes that there ends up being more false data than true. This can make the search for the truth very difficult, and can lead to a lot of extra work for the historian that is doing the particular research.