Episode 2 - Metadata Definition and Types

This is my very first episode. I am guessing that if you clicked on this podcast title that you’ve probably heard the exceptionally nerdy joke “I’ve never metadata I didn’t like.” If you haven’t heard that joke before, well now you have, and now you understand where the name of my podcast came from. Because I DO in fact metadata – always. And I will argue on this show that you should too.

Metdata Definition:

  • Data about data

    • Hate this – It’s vague. It’s just the literal translation for the etymological roots. Not useful.

    • Coined in 1968 by Philip Bagley in his book titled “Extension of Programming Language Concepts.” But it hadn’t yet taken on the life and meaning it has today.

  • A more useful definition "Metadata is structured information that describes, explains, locates, or otherwise makes it easier to retrieve, use, or manage an information resource." 

  • For anyone really new to metadata. It’s all those details about a book, an image, a web page, a document, anything really – which I sum up variously as content or as an information resource – that help you search for it, navigate to it, manage it, protect it, and make decisions about it. And different types of metadata support these different activities.

Three types of metadata that represent key aspects of metadata’s functionality.

  • Descriptive

    • What is it “about?”

    • Subject, author, description

    • Improve search and findability

  • Structural or Technical

    • Technical details about content – file size, video length, image DPI, etc.

    • Used to help make technical decisions about a piece of content –

      • Billboard vs web ready

      • Storage

  • Administrative

    • Manage and protect content

      • Rights

      • Lifecycle management and preservation

        • Approved for use?

        • Archived vs. Disposed

        • In/ out of market

      • Use metrics

        • How it’s performing in the market

        • How many people have used that same stock image?


Reading Recommendations

  1. Introduction to Metadata from Getty Books. Edited by Murtha Baca. This is a great book. Not too big. Super introductory. If you are new to metadata, this is a great first read. And Getty may seem like a surprising publisher for this content, but photographers and keepers of cultural artifacts are some of the pioneers of good metadata in the digital age.


If you’re interested in purchasing the book, please consider making your purchase through my affiliate link below, or on the book recommendations page. It’s that simple, if you purchase through my link then a little bit of the funds will go to me and help me get this podcast thing off the ground. I’m also imagining a world of fun metadata merch (it is real).



Introduction to Metadata from Getty Books. Edited by Murtha Baca. Comes from a collections-management focus but extremely relevant and correct about a metadata intro.

And University of Texas Libraries LibGuides

To paraquote the late UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Audrey Hepburn “To apply metadata is to believe in tomorrow.” Thanks for listening.