A-1.3 Importance of Metadata

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Digital image and audiovisual files can include descriptive, technical and administrative metadata. Virtual compartments in image files can hold several types of metadata – from the number of pixels that make up an image to text that identifies and describes the image. The increasing use of digital cameras to take digital images and film means that a large quantity of technical metadata can be captured automatically (e.g. date, time, focal length, F-number, exposure time and in some cases geo-location) from the digital device.
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Metadata contained in an image file can list how and when an image was created, its size, source and description, information about technical details such as colour characteristics, and the copyright holder and an explanation of rights released. Other than fields that should be common to all digital objects (title, description etc.), metadata contained in a time-based media resource may include information on the contributors (which can be very complicated, for example in the case of a TV programme or film), and both the production and broadcast dates. In terms of descriptive metadata for time-based media, capturing the content and meaning can be complicated. For example, a documentary produced in 2010 could describe an event from 1600 using some footage produced in 1970.
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Metadata is almost entirely hidden from the average user viewing a Web page using a traditional browser but it can be used to enrich their browsing experience. For example, users may be able to view dynamic lists of associated resources. Successful aggregation will depend on robust, consistent metadata.
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The Technology Strategy Board [i] (TSB), a business-led executive non-departmental public body, established by the Government,has stated that, ‘…better metadata systems … offer a possible route to improving consumer access to content and to helping rights holders better manage and exploit their assets’. This recognition of the value of metadata is backed up by a competition for collaborative R&D funding entitled ‘Metadata: increasing the value of digital content’. The TSB are allocating up to £5m to invest in business-led collaborative research and development projects to develop prototypes that will demonstrate how businesses may increase revenues from the metadata relating to their digital content.
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Gotuit’s [ii] patented video metadata management system (VMMS) has been used to enhance the presentation and discovery of video libraries. In 2008, Gotuit published a report [iii] about the strategic importance of metadata for online video publishers.They surmised that publishers need to take production of assured quality metadata seriously, as it can enable the following and more:
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  • Search – both at a file and scene level.
  • Multiple navigation paths within or across different films in a manner that users are accustomed to in Internet navigation.
  • Clip and play list creation for exploiting social networking trends.
  • Dynamic and targeted programming to create higher user engagement.
  • Precise targeted advertising tailored to user behaviour.
  • Accurate reporting and analytics critical to advertising and raising revenue.
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The origins of metadata are neatly summarised in this figure, used in a presentation by Ed Fay from the BOPCRIS[iii]
[iv] service:
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Figure A1: Metadata Origins in relation to METS model
Figure A1: Metadata Origins in relation to METS model
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Finally, it does not matter what form metadata takes if it is not linked properly to the object it is describing. It is critical that links are persistent (Nicolas et al, 2009). This also depends on the way metadata are stored, that is, separately or as part of the digital object. Note however, that metadata are meaningless without the object and at the same time, the digital object has little meaning without its metadata. End-user requirements for discovery are basically the same: they want to find stuff using simple search terms, and prefer it if it is the right stuff.
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[i] http://www.innovateuk.org/_assets/pdf/competition-documents/briefs/tsb_metadatavalueindigcontentcomp-final.pdf
[ii] http://www.gotuit.com/
[iii] Video Metadata Key Strategic Importance For Online Video Publishers – Part 1 http://www.masternewmedia.org/video-metadata-key-strategic-importance-for-online-video-publishers-part-1/
[iv] http://www.southampton.ac.uk/library/bopcris/projects.html

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