Talking about metadata, like cooking with metafood: It’s actually pretty eerie that I stumbled on this post because I had been thinking about this exact thing: when is something “metadata” and when is it just “data”?
Technical conversations about information and data can sometimes include the word “metadata,” which commonly gets defined as: data about data. It’s a fancy word, and I’ve seen many cases where there’s a need to think in terms of meta-ness about data.
But, as a practice, I find that talking about just plain-old data is not only sufficient most of the time, but prevents conversations from degrading into murkiness around which data is about data, and which isn’t. (From experience, I wonder: is there actually any data that isn’t about data in some way?)
Here’s my theory:
Something is metadata when its platform-specific. So, the checkbox “Show on Home Page” would be metadata because it’s related specifically to displaying this piece of content on a Web site.
The “title” is just data (“core data”?) because whether this content is going on a Web site, an RSS feed, a PDF — whatever — the content still needs a title. The title transcends the specific platform (a Web site).
I welcome other thoughts on this.