I think this is a rather different situation from the one libraries commonly deal with, where there is a pretty clear distinction between data representing the full text of a 189-page book by Author X, and the descriptive data that is made up by catalogers or publishers, and is not part of Author X's work at all.  In addition, it is somewhat useful to distinguish between full-text data and descriptive metadata because the nature of the work you can do with these two types of data can be so very different.

You simply can't use the average library catalog to look up Author X's novel that starts with the sentence "So a string walks into a bar."  The actual data (the novel) is not in the catalog (which is composed only of metadata).

Genny Engel
Sonoma County Library
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707 545-0831 x581

-----Original Message-----
From: Code for Libraries [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Nate Vack
Sent: Monday, February 13, 2012 7:57 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [CODE4LIB] Metadata

My take on this discussion, coming from a research lab: Metadata isn't meta.

For example, in recordings of, say, blood pressure over time, it's
common to think about things such as participant identifiers,
acquisition dates, event markers, and sampling rates as "metadata,"
and the actual measurements as "data."

But really: those meta things aren't ancillary to data analysis;
they're essential in keeping analyses organized, and often important
parameters in running an analysis at all.

Breaking things down into data versus metadata I think, encourages a
false (and not very interesting) dichotomy. If information has a use,
call it what it is: data. Store everything that's useful.

If you don't yet have a use in mind for your data, then you have a
place to start working :)