What is Metadata
Metadata, for the most part, is data about data. Every time you upload an item into a database you need to describe that item so a computer can find it later. Librarians and archivists have created numerous metadata standards so that items can be both preserved and accessed over time. We love metadata. In fact, metadata drives the Spotlight experience.
Spotlight uses metadata to find, sort, and deliver your digital content to your user. It is different from most other exhibition systems because it doesn't care what a particular item is in the database: it cares about what KIND of item it is.
For example, let's say you have 1000 photographs of wombats (we also love wombats). You have photographs of brown wombats and black wombats and hairless wombats. When you create your exhibit, you will probably want to create a metadata field for the kind of wombat the picture represents. You might have a field for the animal name, "wombat." You might also have a field for kind. Our metadata would look something like this:
If we had 1000 photos, you can see what having a spreadsheet (csv) might be nice to have since we can upload the metadata information all at once. Let's say we have 400 photos of brown wombats, 300 photos of black wombats, and 300 photos of hairless wombats.
In spotlight, we can easily create featured content and pages using only the metadata we've provided. We can have a page dedicated to ALL wombats, or a page specifically for hairless wombats, or a page for hairless and black wombats. All you have to do is save your search term facets and voila, you have a new content page.
Why are these metadata facets important?
In short, if you add information to your database over time, YOU NEVER HAVE TO REDO YOUR EXHIBIT. THE ITEMS WILL AUTOMATICALLY BE ADDED TO THE PAGES YOU'VE ALREADY CREATED IN THE PAST.
You see, Spotlight isn't really creating "pages": it's creating jars that it sifts items into over time. The jars, once you create them, remain the same, but as new information is added or changed, the system automatically knows which jars those items should go into. This saves your hours, if not days, of work over time.
If you decide to add 5000 more wombat pictures in the future, as long as you use the same metadata fields, Spotlight will order, arrange, and display everything for you.
You'll want to sit down with someone from the digital Scholarship Unit to decide what fields or facets you want to display in which situations. For example, you can checkmark all the metadata fields for "item," and all those fields will appear when someone is looking at one of your items. If you uncheck a box, it will no longer be visible to your viewer.
If you would like to make your own field, you may do so by clicking on the "add new field" button. Don't forget to save your changes when you're done.
Next, we'll learn about how you can control metadata for your user's search process.