There are a few areas where metadata is particularly relevant, and they are all related to adding context and enabling technology to make connections between different subjects. For example, digital smartphone photos of landmarks can be automatically sorted based on geotags in the image metadata. Google parses emails from Amazon to directly link to the package tracking system which shows the status of your order. And soon, metadata from your various devices, purchases, and interactions may decide which products are featured when you visit an online shopping portal.
This highly interconnected web of context and depth is where the future is headed: that's what is hiding behind the semantic web, the internet of things, and big data. It's about making technology able to connect the dots autonomously. That's what is often termed 'smart' in today's marketing buzzword bingo.
But that's not really smart. What is smart is being able to draw conclusions from all of those connected contexts – for example, sentiment analysis to determine a persons mood, or taking things a step further, predicting which employees are most likely to resign in the next year.
That's where we're headed: a world where technology is able to meaningful draw conclusions about our digital lives, based on the mountains of metadata buried in every interaction.