What is Metadata, and What does Metadata Mean to You?

 

“Metadata” literally means “data about data,” which is appropriate in our age of overwhelming information available through digital technology. In each minute of each day on the Internet…

YouTube users upload 48 hours of video (resulting in eight days of content every day), Facebook users share 684,478 pieces of content, Instagram users share 3,600 new photos, Tumblr sees 27,778 new posts published… and 571 new websites are created. These are sites many people around the world use on a regular basis, and will continue to use in the future. The global Internet population now represents 2.1 billion people, and with every website browsed, status shared and photo uploaded, we leave a digital trail that continually grows the hulking mass of Big Data (Visual News).

 

Sandstorm approach

You Are a Single Grain of Sand in an Approaching Global Data Sandstorm

At this very moment, there are two million Google searches going on per second. In fact, data collection volume increased by 400% in 2012, from an average of ten collection events per page, to fifty, and Big Data will drive $232 billion in spending through 2016.

But as a writer (or independent publisher),” you might say . “I write (or publish) books. I have no desire to be a tech-head. So what does all this  metadata mumbo-jumbo have to do with me?”

In this age of information overload, individuals seeking to be discovered can be compared to individual grains of sand in a global sandstorm. It is no longer just enough to create an excellent book and a create an appealing platform so that you can sit back and let readers find you, because you are lost in all the quickly swirling information.

For you, metadata means finding a way to make your specific product or information (book title or author platform) relevant to specific relevant people. It is more a matter of knowing your specific audience or market, discovering how to reach them, and (without wasting resources elsewhere) making a direct appeal to that audience or market.

How is that done? By providing more specific data about the information (data) you are providing to reach your audience or market.  Naturally, Descriptive Metadata is employed to help buyers find books. It describes a resource for purposes such as discovery and identification. It can include elements such as title, abstract, author, and keywords. However, Structural Metadata is also employed in publishing to indicate how print books, eBooks and audiobooks are put together or organized (for example, how pages are ordered to form chapters).

Basic Metadata Required to be Relevant and Searchable

ISBNs (International Standard Book Numbers)- An ISBN uniquely identifies your book, and facilitates the sale of your book to bookstores (physical and digital) and libraries. Using ISBNs allows you to better manage your book’s metadata, and ensure maximum discoverability of your book. According to Bowker (US ISBN supplier),  “Buying an ISBN improves the chances your book will be found… this opens up a world of possibilities that your book will be listed with many retailers and libraries.

LCCNs (Library of Congress Control Numbers) – The LCCN is a serially-based system of numbering cataloging records in the Library of Congress in the United States. Librarians all over the world use this unique identifier in the process of cataloging most books which have been published in the United States. It helps them reach the correct cataloging data (known as a cataloging record), which the Library of Congress and third parties make available on the Web and through other media.

BISAC Codes– BISG (Book Industry Study Group) develops and maintains a number of classification systems for both physical and digital products. The systems can be used individually or together to help determine where the work is shelved in a bricks-and-mortar store or the genre(s) under which it can be searched for in an online database.

Meta Tags -The <meta> tag provides metadata about the HTML document. Metadata will not be displayed on the page, but will be machine parsable.  Meta elements are typically used to specify page description, keywords, author of the document, last modified, and other metadata. The metadata can be used by browsers (how to display content or reload page), search engines (keywords), or other web services. According to Google, “Meta tags are a great way for webmasters to provide search engines with information about their sites.”

So come out of the storm and into the future of the publishing industry. Recognize your path forward. Use our Metadata Services to help your vision take shape, to let your products and your platform stand out and take form in a sandstorm that makes the ordinary more obscure with each passing second!