Thursday, June 30, 2011

#181 / Meta- Whatever

"Meta -" is a prefix that indicates that there is something "beyond" or "behind" whatever the word is to which the prefix is attached.

In our age of computers, many have come to know of "metadata." If you don't know about how that works, it would be good to learn. Unless special efforts are made to eliminate the metadata, our word processing documents contain not only the words we write, but also data "behind" those words, and that metadata reveals a lot about who did what and when.

If you are going to submit a term paper that you are supposed to have written yourself, and are having a volunteer or paid person do the actual writing for you (a not uncommon situation, according to my wife, who teaches community college) then you had better strip out the metadata before submitting the paper, or you may be found out. In my wife's classes, that sort of thing will earn you an "F." Not just for the paper, either, but for the course.

I am not submitting this post to help students cheat. I just want to observe that behind all the "realities" we think we know about, are often "other realities" which inform them, or even "cause" the realities most apparent.

Behind the realities of our human world are the actions that humans have taken in the past. Strip out the "metadata" of our current reality, and human freedom is observed.

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