(Data About Data About Data) * n+1

I cannot emphasize how important metadata is.

Without geospatial data, we would be without the very core of GIScience left with the burden of a heavy toolbox with no material to build with. Metadata, is popularly described as data about data, providing data users with the information they require in order first find the data they require, but also assess the fitness of use for their research goals. In a world where countless hours are invested in searching for the correct data, metadata is a hero – but not one without flaws.

Guptill introduces the subject of metadata well, unpacking for us the workings of metadata standardization. Yes, there is another layer. As the title of this post suggests, the categorization of the data itself is not sufficient, without standardization of metadata how does one compare data sources or place confidence in the terminology used to describe the data they collect? One of the key issues that this article raised in my mind are the methods required to reconcile different data and metadata standards drawn from different countries. There are over 70 territorial entities where English is an official language, 70 ways in which metadata could exist.

While my passion for metadata shines optimistic that its the answer to all of our data search woes, there exists a tension between the desire of a user for detailed metadata and the availability of resources for the data producer to create it. The cost of metadata production can be reduced, according to Guptill by advancements in metadata standardization.

I do really wonder what standards exist, if any, for volunteered geographic information. I would argue that it’s absence may invalidate, VGI as a legitimate geospatial data source.

– Othello


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