July 27, 2008

METADATER: a long explanation for a short joke

Caution: This post contains a hearty portion of information nerdiness/ geekiness/ dorkiness. I will try to "overexplain" some things a little for the benefit of our average reader (returning readers will notice that "overexplanation" is something I do on the regular, for real).

So, feel free to skip ahead if you already know a thing or two about metadata. Or don't, if you want to see me try to explain it.

Context: What the heck is metadata, anyway? According to wikipedia and SI, metadata is "data about data." Metadata helps us make sense of information by providing us with context. It allows us to better communicate and organize information and thus retrieve information more efficiently.

Titles and formatting are examples of metadata often used to describe text. For instance, the metadata I apply to READ THIS NOW! tells you a lot more than a less invasive "read this now" would have. The metadata (bold, caps and exclamation point) I use to describe the data (three words which represent your imperative) helps me communicate my meaning, draws your attention and hopefully inspires you to continue reading. It also allows me to classify what I say as important, rather than just plain old words like the stuff around it.

Recently, when I asked a fellow information professional if he had any thoughts on metadata, he asked, "Can you be more specific?" I said no. He said, "It's a ... good thing?" Metadata. It's a good thing. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metadata


What's the deal with METADATER? Last semester, I was writing a literature review on Metadata Standards and Interoperability for the Digital Libraries course that Emily and I took together. While this may sound vaguely impressive, I can assure you that I had almost no idea what I was talking about, but I sort of guessed at a string of plausible words and ended up sounding mildly coherent. Professor, if you're reading this... sorry dude. Thanks for the passing grade.

So Emily and I were both typing like mad in the office trying to get these overly technical lit reviews done and submitted on time, and I typoed "metadater" and I sort of cackled and said "METADATER!" in this incredibly nerdy affected voice and we both died a little in a good way. We wrote the term on the office white board and it lasted for a while.

Since then, we've realized what METADATER is really all about. We've learned the true reason I discovered the concept in the first place.

METADATER is an online dating site for information professionals. Or it should be. It doesn't actually exist. But it could.

After all, http://metadater.com/ was recently "registered\purchased." And who knows what it'll be when it finally goes live.

I'll give you a few moments to think about the ramifications.


Well... seriously bad/good joke. I mean, word play and information science? It doesn't get any better/worse. I warned you it was nerdy.


  1. So, what would data about data about data be called? How about data about data about data about data? How about a website with data about a dating website called metadatar? How deep DOES that rabbit hole go?


  2. Okay, so a dating website is more wordplay and fun, but shouldn´t "metadater" be someone who works on metadata? (It´s more fitting to the English usage of the "er" ending.)

  3. Thanks for giving me an idea! If I ever create a work-related blog, can I use "metadater"? UBER LURVE!

  4. stormy_brow, go for it! I would LOVE to see your take on METADATER. Since you are already a metadata fiend, you might also want to check out http://www.metadater.org/

    Have fun!!

  5. And the result of metadater gone right. . .informating

  6. I was going to write a similar blog concerning this topic, you beat me to it. You did a nice job! Thanks and well add your RSS to come categories on our blogs. Thanks so much, Jon B.
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  7. And the result of metadater gone right!!!