What is metadata?
Simply put, metadata is data about data!
Let’s use email as an example. The content of the email is the data. The date, subject and time associated with the email is the metadata. Similarly, when you write your name and the date at the top of a test, you are adding metadata to the data (the test itself).
There are two kinds of metadata: stand-alone metadata and embedded metadata.
Stand-alone metadata is information that is separate from the data that it describes. For example, when you insert an image into a program such as PowerPoint or Word, and add a descriptive caption, the caption is stand-alone metadata. The picture and the caption are not bound in any permanent way. Someone could come along and easily delete the caption, and the picture would remain, unidentified.
Unlike stand-alone metadata, embedded metadata is information that lives within the data that it describes.
For example, when you right-click on a digital image and select “properties” you can see the data that is embedded in the image file.
Why is embedded metadata useful?
Often, people use descriptive file names and/or a folder system to organize their personal image collections. Embedded metadata takes information management a step further. As you can see in the picture above, embedded metadata makes it possible to easily access an array of information about a photograph, including its title, creator, dimensions and the date on which the image was taken. Some of this information is automatically supplied by the digital camera, and some of the information is manually added after the photo was taken.
Embedded metadata is useful not only because it preserves information; it also makes it easy to find images stored on your computer using the search feature that is built into Microsoft and Mac operating systems.
How can I add embedded metadata to images?
There are a number of ways to add embedded metadata to digital photographs, and it is possible to add metadata fields that are specific to visual arts.
To learn more, join us on Friday, November 22 from 12:00noon – 1:00pm in the VAC 134 (Media Lab) for the Embedded Metadata Explained! Workshop. We will discuss how to use Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Bridge to add embedded metadata to digital images. RSVP here if you plan on attending. All faculty, staff and students at Western are welcome to attend.