Metadata-driven workflows

According to Wikipedia, “The term metadata refers to ‘data about data.’ The term is ambiguous, as it is used for two fundamentally different concepts (types). Structural metadata is about the design and specification of data structures and is more properly called ‘data about the containers of data’; descriptive metadata, on the other hand, is about individual instances of application data, the data content. In this case, a useful description would be ‘data about data content’ or ‘content about content,’ thus metacontent.”

The author of that anonymous Wikipedia definition has a point. The term “metadata” is applied as a blanket over more than one concept. The first can be described as “tell me about the bits” and the second as “tell me what the bits mean.” The first concept has been involved in driving workflows for quite some time, an example being automated transcoding upon ingest.

But the second concept, “data about content,” has until recently been limited in workflow utility to very basic storage management use cases. In other words, it’s used to determine what to archive and how to find content in the archive. For most, that is a cost of doing business rather than a revenue stream, as the overwhelming majority of video archive repositories in the world have little value except to their owners.

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