For a number of years, I have been struck by the way in which the topic of meta data is approached by IT professionals. It often seems that there is an assumption that every specialty in IT has its own set of meta data that can be known in advance, and there is no effort needed to discover what meta data might be necessary in any given situation. Indeed, people often talk about "the meta data" that is required for a project, as if no discussion is required about what this meta data consists of. There is no doubt that meta data exists for every project, but just because it exists does not mean that it is useful and needs to be managed. It is not the fact that meta data happens to exist that should drive meta data management. Rather, it is business requirements that should dictate what meta data needs to be managed.

A second disturbing trend is the "Roach Motel" approach to meta data management. Roach motels were (and maybe still are) roach traps that were advertised with the slogan "The roaches check in but never check out" - or something like that. Many projects concerned with meta data seem to collect meta data and place it in a repository that is difficult to access, or which nobody wants to access. The meta data is trapped, but no value is obtained from it.

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