Neglected no Matter how you Spell it

When I was in elementary school, I always excelled at spelling. I can remember third grade spelling bees where the best spellers won prizes valued from a dime to a quarter. To me this was exciting.
I tried very hard (and I still try very hard) to spell properly.

Thanks to Word 97 and the other word processing packages, I get red squiggly lines under my misspelled words to highlight when I have made an error. If you see misspelled words in the newsletter,
let me know and I will change my settings from “red squiggly lines” to “sirens and 2×4 smackings” to make me aware of my errors.

Recently I have had a problem with one word that I can’t seem to get correct. (Or is it two words?) The word that I am talking about is metadata or meta data or meta-data. I can’t seem to please
my PC or laptop with a correct spelling. Or… Is there even a correct spelling?

We in the data management industry spell the word for “data about data” the three ways demonstrated above. So do the major data management publications, sometimes inter-changing the spellings
within the same article or column. You’d think that data professionals that stress standards in many aspects of our business could select a single spelling that would satisfy the masses. Yet we

Is there reason to pick a single way to spell the word? We all know what is meant by metadata (my new way to spell the word — better go back and change all of my old articles). Some data
professionals spend more time worrying about how to spell metadata than we spend managing metadata in our companies.

Metadata is one of the most valuable yet most neglected resources available to business and technical professionals. Metadata plays a considerable role in business intelligence and data warehousing
success. Metadata plays a role in application development success. Metadata plays a role in reducing data redundancy and improving data quality. And metadata plays a role in the success of the
database administrator.

[You should see the all of the red squiggly lines under each “metadata”. Kind of reminds me of the red ink on my college papers.]

Even with “data about data” playing a major role in the vitality and success of companies and IRM organizations, managing metadata is treated as an after-thought. Or as Bill Inmon starts his Data
Management Review (DMR 11/98) Enterprise Metadata article, “Meta data has long been the Wednesday’s child of information processing systems.” Also stated in this same article, “It is meta data
that holds the key to the context of data.” [Mr. Inmon spells metadata as meta data.]

So the questions remain. What will it take to get metadata over the top? What are the differences between the companies that put resources toward meta data management and those that say they
understand the importance but don’t provide resources to improve meta data management? To these questions there are no easy answers. Simply put, “You’ve got to pay to play.”

My guess is that we have just scratched the surface of understanding the role that metadata will play in our organizations and that metadata management will become even more important over the
coming months and years. From all indications – experts, authors, consultants, vendors, and DA professionals are not about to let metadata management pass as a “fad”. If metadata was a fad, the
issue would have been laid to rest years ago. Metadata will continue to grow in popularity as more and more companies jump on the bandwagon when they realize that they can’t be entirely successful
without it.

Even if we all spell the word differently.

Share this post

Robert S. Seiner

Robert S. Seiner

Robert (Bob) S. Seiner is the President and Principal of KIK Consulting & Educational Services and the Publisher Emeritus of The Data Administration Newsletter. Seiner is a thought-leader in the fields of data governance and metadata management. KIK (which stands for “knowledge is king”) offers consulting, mentoring and educational services focused on Non-Invasive Data Governance, data stewardship, data management and metadata management solutions. Seiner is the author of the industry’s top selling book on data governance – Non-Invasive Data Governance: The Path of Least Resistance and Greatest Success (Technics Publications 2014) and the followup book - Non-Invasive Data Governance Strikes Again: Gaining Experience and Perspective (Technics 2023), and has hosted the popular monthly webinar series on data governance called Real-World Data Governance (w Dataversity) since 2012. Seiner holds the position of Adjunct Faculty and Instructor for the Carnegie Mellon University Heinz College Chief Data Officer Executive Education program.

scroll to top