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The Importance of Metadata in Content Management

One of the biggest hurdles in implementing an effective Content Management application is to establish a usable Metadata Model. Having a repository of data that users cannot search and access information from is no better than storing data on a simple file system. Let's look at some common models, in particular Dublin Core.

Content Management, no matter what type of content, requires a strong Metadata model and Security model to ensure correct management of objects and true usability.

The Importance of Metadata in Content Management

To put it simply, Metadata is a set of fields and values used to describe and categorize content and managed objects. As a general rule, Metadata is key to these functions:

  • Search — Users will often want to search for key data associated with a file such as an Author, Date Published, Key Words, Topic and so on.
  • Distribution — Values associated with content are often used by applications to determine when and where content will be distributed or shared too.
  • Access — Security applied to managed objects are often part of the overall metadata model. Applications that filter the metadata model during distribution are actually applying a light level of security in terms of delivering targeted content based upon business rules matching metadata values.
  • Retention — Most Records Management applications rely upon content metadata when performing retention rules.

Metadata Standards

When evaluating taxonomies and metadata models, organizations should first look to see if there are any standards that external parties require them to use when sharing data. For example, organizations dealing with the US Department of Justice, US Environmental Protection Agency, US Health Information Knowledgebase or the US National Cancer Institute will more than likely need to adopt the ISO/IEC 11179 standard.

There are standards available, and sometimes required, in almost every kind of industry. The following are a few of the most common standards:

  • Archiving and Social Science
    • Data Documentation Initiative (DDI)
    • Text Encoding Initiative (TEI)
  • Archiving
    • Encoded Archival Description (EAD)
  • Arts
    • Categories for Description of Works (CDWA)
    • Visual Resources Association (VRA Core)
  • Biology
    • Darwin Core
  • Book Industry
    • Online Information Exchange (ONIX)
  • Data Warehousing
    • Common Warehouse Metamodel (CWM)
  • Ecology
    • Ecological Metadata Language (EML)
  • Education
    • Learning Objects Metadata (IEEE LOM)
  • Geographic Data
    • Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (CSDGM)
  • Government/Organizations
    • E-Government metadata Standard (e-GMS)
    • Global Information Locator Service (GILS)
    • ISO/IEC 11179
  • Images
    • NISO MIX Z39.87
  • Librarianship
    • Machine Readable Cataloging (MARC)
    • Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard (METS)
    • Metadata Object Description Schema (MODS)
  • Media
    • PBCore
  • Music
    • Music Encoding Initiative (MEI)
  • Network Resources
    • Dublin Core
    • Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
  • Records Management
    • ISO 2308

Dublin Core is a Common Model for Content Management

For traditional corporate Content Management, many organizations adopt a version of the Dublin Core model which is one of the most well known and established standards. The essence of the Dublin Core states that content will be described by metadata that:

  • Address Functional Requirements — The main repository or any application that connects to the repository for managed content will be performing specific tasks. Metadata should be constructed to address these functions. As an example, content may be called from a Web App which may have certain search and security requirements.
  • Develop A Domain Model — A domain model is a description of the things the metadata model will describe and the relationship between those things such as a person or author is described by a name, location and email address.
  • Define Metadata Terms — Metadata terms are the properties that describe the things in the model. For example, a press release would have a title, release date, author and topic. An author can have a name, location or address and email address.

When designing a model using this approach, there are many dependencies that need to be addressed and it can be difficult to keep them organized. Before an organization begins to build their model, the following guidelines can help to keep this manageable and usable:

 

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