Metadata Rhymes with Metadata

Metadata!

What is it? It's data, but it's more than that: it's data about data. What does that mean? Well, to pick a hypothetical situation, let's say Karl takes a photograph of me biting Abby. The photograph is data. But let's say, the photo was taken on August 9th, 2003, at the Won Kee in Plymouth, New Hampshire, while the photographer was picking his nose. That's data about our photograph, or data about data. In a word, it's metadata.

"So," you're asking, "why should I care?" Well, I'm glad you asked! Sit a spell, won't you?

I read a lot of web comics. Generally, they're pretty funny, and occasionally I like to pass certain comics off to friends. Trouble is, I can hardly ever find said comics when I really want to. Most of the comics I read have several hundred archived strips. Sinfest alone has nearly 1,300. Since they exist only as images, there is virually no way to search through past strips for a particular word or phrase or character.

Enter Goats.

That came out wrong.

Anyway, Goats. Goats records the script for each comic, as well as each frame's location and the props involved. Do a search for "kittens, pop tarts" to see just how useful this saved script data is. (Hint: kittens = pop tarts.) This is amazing, and every comic should be creating this sort of metadata. It's something I've been thinking about of late, and it's great to see that a webcomic has already picked it up, and seems to have done a stellar job to boot.

I envision a distributed network of comic readers, each reading a few past strips of their favorite comics and creating a huge database of all the comic metatdata you could ask for. That would be joyous. Deep sigh. I'll Google for it tomorrow. ;)