The Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to rock the world. It hit very close to home for CMSWire Contributor John Horodyski, who is Ukrainian.

John is a passionate believer in the use of strong metadata practices. He's also passionate about spreading the message that brands — and all people, really — be authentic and genuine in the way they communicate and produce content. His very personal and on-point CMSWire column earlier this year on why metadata matters for Ukraine addressed this important mission.

"As the world is focused on the current situation in Ukraine, the capital city of Kyiv is currently amid a metadata identity relevance conundrum," John wrote. "Search results on Google are still showing [earlier this year] 'Kyiv' on Wikipedia as 'Kiev' … no, it’s just Kyiv, thank you very much, as the people of Ukraine have stated.

"Let us all consider this with humanity and respect," he added. "Without facts that are authentic, authoritative and replete with respect, trust will be hard to build. Information is coming at us from so many sources. This complexity is being compounded by the increasing rate of content production on social media." 

We caught up with Horodyski for a Q&A on the topic. Editor's note: This transcription has been edited for clarity.

Metadata Matters for All of Us 

Dom Nicastro: Dom Nicastro here, managing editor of CMSWire. I am here with our latest CMSWire contributor, John Horodyski, the managing director with Salt Flats, where he leads the insights and analytics practice. John, how's it going? 

John Horodyski: I'm doing great. Thank you for having me with you, Dom. Happy, happy everything.

Nicastro: Happy everything and happy CMSWire contributing. John. You've been doing this with us, how long has it been now? We can't thank you enough.

Horodyski: Golly, gee, it's in the multiple of years. It's many years. Great organization to be a part of. You do great content. I'm very pleased to be able to be a part of the contributors for good content. So thank you very much for having me.

Nicastro: Yeah. You're the lifeblood, the contributors, of the website, there's no question about it, I've been saying that for years. And John, you know, today, what a what a topic. I mean, I can't tell you how much this resonated for me to see our audience get a relatable story to something that's going on in the world that is just so overwhelming. And there are so many layers to what's happening over there in Ukraine. And the way you hit on all these chords of what the impact of data is, and metadata and being genuine in your language and metadata and getting things right when it comes to data. It's just, it's such a fascinating piece. And I wanted to ask you, you know, what was the passion behind this? Through your words, I can just feel how palpable the passion is for this topic. So what what sparked the post?

Horodyski: What sparked the post: two things, metadata does matter. And that speaks to a lot of what I do. And that does matter to me a lot. It's everything I do in the clients we work with; it's very much a topic for them. And it is something that we see in every industry. And it's agnostic; metadata is everywhere and impacts data from the beginning right to the end.

And secondly, I'm Ukrainian. And certainly what's happening right now in the world is something to be recognized. And I thought the two put together was a great way to ... hey, listen, this is all about education, right? And when we write articles, you want to make sure the audience learns something from, and I do believe that this was this one is able to educate a few new items to people and just let them realize that metadata matters, not just for business and personal stuff, but there are big reasons why metadata matters. And certainly something like with Kyiv, a name. Let's say it right, let's make sure we give the respect and the identity of what Kyiv means and what it is. It's all about giving respect. So metadata matters for Kyiv, absolutely.

Related Article: Why Metadata Matters for Kyiv

Authentic Content Experiences

Nicastro: Yeah. And you know, you being Ukrainian, and you know, I wish your family and everyone, all your brothers and sisters out there, the very best obviously, from the heart. And speaking of from the heart, again, your column, you can just see it, you can feel it. All your passion behind this, you really empty the tank on this. So we appreciate you doing that. It's very personal, you know, and that's what writing is. It's very personal. So I can't thank you enough for that.

Learning Opportunities

When you take the context of your topic, and how can brands like marketers or brands sort of learn from the things you talk about in terms of metadata, governance around the metadata, and just simply being authentic, you know, when it comes to these content experiences and data?

Horodyski: Yeah, it's these little moments we look around us, we see things, we get inspired and educated by many things in society. And I think a lot of brands can look upon this and say, How am I doing? How am I doing with my brand? Am I being respectful? Am I ensuring that the metadata I'm providing with this is good in all regions? We know that for certain brands, content changes, depending on what region you're in. We say in North America, we say, potato chips, you go somewhere else, they say crisps. Why? Well, because that's how they say it over there. So let's be respectful. 

But let's also make sure that the metadata is aligned to that, so we're delivering the right message to the right people. So I think when we start talking about language and identity and respect, I think many brands can click this article and go, got it. Maybe we should do a check-in. How am I doing with our brand? How are we doing in the other regions? Have things changed?

You know, many, many years ago, we used to say things like, and here we are in award season coming up, you know, and the winner is? We don't say that anymore. Why? Everyone's a winner. What do we say? We say, "And the Oscar goes to." Why? Because you want to be respectful to the audience. So I'm hoping that people will be able to read this article and then go, this is about this subject in Kyiv and Ukraine. But how is my brand doing? Am I being reflective? Am I being responsible? And am I giving the right identity in 2022? And I think it's a good reflection for everyone to say, "Where's my governance? Am I looking at my words? Am I being responsible with my identity of the brand over many regions?" So hopefully, there can be some inspirational and educational opportunities for brands from reading this article.

Related Article: NFTs and the Metaverse Are So Meta

All About Language and Learning

Nicastro: Yeah, speaking of inspiration, you cited author Angela Duckworth in the piece. She said, "Language is one way to cultivate hope. People can learn to learn." I thought that was super powerful. Why did that resonate with you?

Horodyski: I read that book two years ago, and I wrote it down in the book, I wrote it down on a piece of paper, I put it into my iPhone, I put it into my tracker. And listen, language is everywhere, we speak it, we say it, we read it all the time. But I'm a big believer in learning. I'm a lifelong learner. I do believe that we, society should learn as we go and learn and evolve and be respectful of things and change.

And that quote resonates so well because it's all about language and learning. And as we progress in society, you know, there are certain things we don't say anymore, for good reason. Because we're giving respect, and we're being inclusive of the things we're trying to say. And that statement is just such a lovely short word of inspiration for all of us just to recognize that language does matter. So let's take the time to understand what the language is.

But then like her last point, let's make sure we're learning. Language is great and powerful, but let's make sure we have opportunities to learn and to advance and to be respectful and to have that inclusivity going forward. It's a great line. It affected me, and I want to share that with all the readers.