Sometimes extra help is needed to interpret computer data within the proper context. This support, also covered in the “form” of data, is what we call metadata.
It consists of information attached to the data that helps us to interpret them.
A simple example of the use of this resource would be the information attached to PDF or DOC files contained in the same files and which indicate, among other information, the author of the document , the date and time of its creation, in addition to the detail of its last modification.
The date and time stamped on the photos also constitutes the use of metadata, in addition to the geographic location that modern cameras are capable of performing for each image.
Still a third example of metadata would be tags with keywords that appear next to a blog or website article and help to rank it in further searches.
Conceptually, metadata would become like the index of a book, which helps us locate the different contents and access them.
Thus, the metadata can describe the structure of the set of a main data, offer information and description , or even constitute additional information of a statistical or control type.
They are especially useful when it comes to classifying the information contained for later retrieval.
Metadata is usually not important – not even consulted – for the end user, but for the system that handles the information
That’s why, in computer files, metadata is often “hidden”, even if you can find an option to view it.
The metadata that accompanies information can vary over time, even if it is not the main data and to incorporate new information related to a changing context.
Another characteristic of metadata is that it always resides stored in the same place as the data.
Before, we talked about computer files that contain metadata and we can say that the same will happen with web pages that have metadata in the form of labels or other metadata for certain content in the same HTML file.
Metadata can also pose a security problem, since by not being explicitly listed, they can store some information that we don’t want.
For example, in the case of a photograph of which we do not want to disclose its location for security reasons , it is possible that the image file contains the geographic location data, if the camera used has this capability.
So, on devices that are susceptible to handling sensitive data, it’s worth studying what metadata can be attached to the system , as well as the applications to use, so they don’t leave traces we don’t want.