I find it almost comical that our mainstream media is latching onto (and blowing out of proportion) the report about the NSA pouring over phone records and other data. First, metadata is not new. It may have been disguised as health records, or school records, or whatever, but it is not new. People didn’t care about the information in years past because it was secured and locked away on a printed piece of paper in a file cabinet at your doctor’s office or at your child’s school. Fast forward to today where many of our personal records, bills, and pretty much everything else is electronic and you have a massive amount of metadata. Yes, there is a massive amount of this metadata that lives in our world, and yes the NSA is not the only organization looking at it.
Twenty years ago when I worked at GE, we were hired by a well known large bank to develop a data mining system that would be able to forecast the likelihood of a person defaulting on a loan or missing a credit card payment. This system aggregated a ton of metadata including financial credit scores, loan payment history, economic status, etc. This was a commercial business, not the government, but why is this any different than the NSA using phone records to secure our country? Aren’t both organizations (banks and NSA) invading our privacy? I am perplexed by our citizens who feel that our government is required to keep us safe, but don’t want any inconveniences or intrusion in our lives. Meanwhile, public companies, advertisers, banks and pretty much every other large business is looking at your metadata to figure out your buying behavior. This is nothing new.
Up until a few weeks ago most people in the United States had no idea what metadata was and frankly, probably could care less because it was a techie thing. For most publishers, metadata is the backbone of their content. Publishers have invested heavily in metadata as their printed product revenue has evolved over time into electronic product revenue. We have touched on this subject several times over the past few years on this blog:
The Second Rule of Content Management: Enrich with Metadata – http://blog.reallysi.com/bid/92056/The-Second-Rule-of-Content-Management-Enrich-with-Metadata
Centralized Metadata, Content, and Assets: Paradise Lost – http://blog.reallysi.com/bid/41180/Centralizing-metadata-content-and-assets-Paradise-Lost-and-Regained
Metadata Lessons from Google Books – http://blog.reallysi.com/bid/40326/Metadata-lessons-from-Google-Books
Metadata management will continue to be a key part of their publishing and product development processes. This is one of the main reasons we developed RSuite CMS. There was a significant void in the CMS market when it came to both content and metadata management. We believe we have solved this issue with RSuite and welcome the opportunity to discuss our product with publishers who feel the need to more efficiently apply and manage metadata.
The recent elevation of the word “metadata” in the mainstream media probably has most publishers chuckling a bit, but the investment in metadata by publishers is very real and will continue as the ability to find content becomes ever more complex.