Friday, December 16, 2005


So, do you know what metadata is? Consider this yer lesson folks. The conspiracy theory that is real.

You know how you are always seeing shows like CSI or Law and Order where they take old computers and find things that people thought were erased? And you think how did they do that?? Or how they determine when I file was written, who it was written by, when it was modified, etc? Well metadata is the information that is attached or embedded into each file (word, excel, pdf, jpeg, etc) that tells you when the file was created and edited, which program was used, who created and edited it, etc etc.

Metadata is technically text information, although it can also be a smaller (thumbnail) of the original image, and it can be stored in a seperate database or embedded directly into the file it is related to. Metadata is by default embedded into a photo the second that your digital camera captures it. Most cameras embed information such as the make and model of camera used to capture the image, as well as most camera settings, like flash, zoom, focus, mode, etc.

You can manually (with the right photo software, such as Photoshop CS) add other information like the author, copyright, description, keywords, and places where the photo was taken. This can be great for organizing, sorting, and storing your photos. But it can be bad if your photo is distributed with your name and address attached (which you would have to attach yourself) or if it gives information about where the file was stored on your computer, etc etc.

But. There are third party software packages, usually that have free trials or are available free for home and personal use, that are used to "scrub" or "strip" metadata from images and documents. Another positive note? When stripped, photos and documents can dramatically decrease in size, taking up less space on disks, hard drives, and CD's, AND loading much quicker when viewed in emails and on the web.

So that's today's lesson in metadata.

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