Internet

There Is No Way To Write A Punchy Headline About Metadata

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meta Data?

When you write in Microsoft Word, record an audio file, take a photo, or otherwise digitally create stuff, you're also creating metadata—a bunch of information about who, what, when, where, and how that adheres to your data.

A ruling from the Arizona Supreme Court yesterday means that from now on the metadata of public records is now part of that record, and has to be handed over in response to a public information request. The original Arizona case concerns a police whistle blower, who suspected that bad performance reviews had been created after the fact in the digital personnel files to justify his demotion. The department refused to hand over the data about the creation of those records, but now the court has ruled that they must.

Transparency advocates are excited about the ruling, because—among other things—metadata has been useful in revealing the influence of lobbyists and other special interests on the legislative process:

One of the most famous metadata lobbying goof-ups occurred in 2004, when Wired busted California Attorney General Bill Lockyer circulating an anti-P2P [peer-to-peer filesharing] letter that, after a look at its Word metadata, appeared to have been either drafted or edited by the [Motion Picture Association of America].

Via Jake Brewer

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  1. One of the most famous metadata lobbying goof-ups occurred in 2004, when Wired busted California Attorney General Bill Lockyer circulating an anti-P2P [peer-to-peer filesharing] letter that, after a look at its Word metadata, appeared to have been either drafted or edited by the [Motion Picture Association of America].

    So, the argument itself was wrong?

  2. Is that Lore’s head?

    1. I think it’s data’s own head… if this is where he goes back in time, is blasted apart, and is reassembled in the “present”.

      1. No, that is a first season uniform (note the yellow stripe running from shoulder to shoulder), so it must be from Datalore as Episiarch suggests. You’re thinking of Time’s Arrow, Part I which was in the fifth season.

        1. I stand outgeeked. I am humbled.

      2. Data’s head was also removed and reattached in the appropriately named fifth season episode Disaster, which also treats us to Picard singing the French translation of “Itsy Bitsy Spider”, Dr Crusher showing herself to be in better physical shape than Geordi, Worf acting as midwife, and Counselor Troi left in charge on the bridge despite not knowing what antimatter containment is or why losing it is a bad thing.

  3. I metadata in my pajamas. How she got into my pajamas she’ll never know.

  4. Actually, this headline is about metadata and is punchy. Success.

  5. If it only pertains to public records, this seems like a good ruling. But be careful if you’re electronically doing your taxes, submitting title information, or like the MPA, lobbying.

    You can stay safe with my new Meta-Eater software, available for just $29.95. And that’s not all…

    1. TIM! It’s bad enough when the rest of us conjure Anonyminity Bot, but you are STAFF!

  6. Metadata, Meet’cher Daddy

  7. All this will produce is a new feature in Word (or a separate utility) that scrubs all meta-data. Government procedures will be amended to require use of this feature/utility as the final step before publishing or releasing any electronic data file.

    1. That’s just dandy as long as the file just sits on a file server. Even in that case, this ruling would require release of the file create/mod/access times and username of ownership. Most bureautards won’t think to use ‘touch’ or some other tool to redate the file.

      Even the most pleistocene municipality probably does some kind of document management database, so even a scrubbed file is going to have database metadata that says when it was created along with some amount of an audit trail.

  8. “If you ever metadata, you’d like him”

  9. I Never Metadata I Didn’t Like

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