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Why metadata?

Metadata is often defined as “data about data,” but a more accurate definition due to Cliff Lynch is that metadata is a set of assertions about a resource. The most common assertions made inlcude the title, description, format and subject of a resource. These are important for several reasons:

  1. You can use metadata to get an idea of what is in a resource without opening or reading the resource itself. That saves time.
  2. Metadata helps you organize and find resources. For example, the stuff that is displayed in a GoogleTM search list is metadata.
  3. Metadata adds context to documents and communications by giving you information about the topics they address or the attitudes expressed towards those topics. Metadata can be aggregated for groups of documents or communications, giving you a “metaglance” into what they are saying and what they mean.

Metadata Resources

Dublin Core Metadata Initiative: The most widely used metadata, especially for bilbiographic material. The crosswalks page on this site shows how to map metadata returned by MetaGlance to DC.

Learning Object Metadata: The most widely used type of metadata in learning, education and training. The crosswalks page on this site shows how to map metadata returned by MetaGlance to LOM.

Metadata Principles and Practicalities. A reference article on metadata from the perspective of the library and learning communities.

Web Services

The word “web service” can mean a lot of different things today. The basic idea of all web services is that you can access the functionality of a program running on a different computer using the same protocols you would use to retrieve web pages or submit web forms.

MetaGlance web services are HTTP JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) web services. They are “called” via a URL that starts with “http://services.metaglance.com.” You either must add some parameters (such as a key and a target URL) or submit a POST request to the service. Details can be found under the documentation tab.