In the DAM world we often hear a group of terms being used to describe aspects of the DAM process. So what is the difference between METADATA, a CONTROLLED VOCABULARY (CV), a TAXONOMY?

METADATA:  this is often defined by the phrase “it is data about data.” The term refers to three different classes of data that is used to describe and retrieve an electronic file or asset:

ADMINISTRATIVE METADATA: is the information related to an asset that manages that asset over the long and short term. It includes when the file was created, how the file was created, the file type, rights management (copyright, who can access a file and when) and preservation information (how to archive or hold the asset for the short or long term)

DESCRIPTIVE METADATA: is the data that describes the content of the file, like the title, keywords, caption or abstract, creator/author and the like.

STRUCTURAL METADATA: describes how the file should be perceived in relationship to other files in the collection as well as storage and presentation. It is often a sidecar file like an XML file which carries the asset’s information.

CONTROLLED VOCABULARY (CV):  is a carefully selected list of words (TERMS), based on a collection, which are placed in a hierarchical structure and are assigned to assets as tags so that they can be easily searched and sorted for users. The fact that the terms selected are controlled means there are no ambiguous terms, grammar or spelling mistakes.

TAXONOMY: is a hierarchical list of topics or subject categories that are applied to an organization’s assets in order to classify them. It is used as a navigational path through the collection’s content.

Link to definitions for: Subject Indexing, Ontology, Keywords and Thesaurus.