The best definition of metadata is also very generic: metadata is data about data. In this definition the nature of the data being described by the metadata is left unspecified. This data can be collections or individual instances of objects or documents, Internet resources but also real world objects. By this definition, metadata also includes the cataloguing records that libraries have been producing for a long time.
In a more narrow sense, however, metadata commonly refers to information available on the Internet. This is also the environment where the necessity of good description mechanisms was becoming the most pressing: on the Internet and most notably the World Wide Web, it is relatively easy to publish information but it is becoming more and more difficult to find relevant information. Also, it is also very difficult to protect or control the use of information.
Many communities have a need for metadata of one type or another, including amongst others libraries, archives, museums, publishers, governments, information brokers. The interest in this workshop is an indication of the variety of interested parties, with representation from projects under various sectors of the Telematics Applications Programme (Libraries, Information Engineering, Language Engineering, Research).
There are different requirements for metadata such as: discovery of information, protection of rights, classification of content, management of resources. Therefore, various communities might need different sets of metadata.
Currently, one of the most advanced sets is the one developed under the name of Dublin Core. Other sets are being developed such as that in PICS (Platform for Internet Content Selection).
This workshop had its focus on the Dublin Core metadata set, which is especially concerned with resource discovery of document-like objects on the Internet. It should be borne in mind that Dublin Core does not cover all possible requirements for metadata, but serves as a good and well-developed example, as well as being the one that is most relevant for the projects that were represented in this workshop.
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