Metadata is the information about something. My best example, is that a document that has the name of a person on the top and the work history below is called a resume whether or not the word resume appears on the page. Quite often web pages will have metadata about the page hidden for just software agents to rapidly consume and use the metadata for better indexing the page for searches or to better consume or process the page.
Generally, when the web page is printed, the browser includes the URL at the edge of the page (although often truncated). And usually the printed version includes enough information about itself that the metadata would just be repetitive or not relevant. However, it may be that someone just wants to see, print or just show metadata for the following use cases:
- paper reminder to read online;
- to post with a link and/or barcode with URL to allow others to note and bookmark the page by writing down the web address and core information or scanning the link into their phone and later go to read, download or print the document
- to better know what the author/publisher intended for the document by checking the metadata (now usually by looking at the HTML page source)--this is similar to the cards from card catalogs of yesteryear.
Currently there are some metadata embedding standards like variants of Dublin Core for HTML, Adobe's XMP and the Library of Congress' MODS. But there is no widely used standard to see the metadata easily in a web browser.
Many web pages uses a variant of the word "content" as part of an HTML "id" attribute for either internal documentation and/or accessibility reasons. Note bene: there may be a move away from this with the new HTML5 tag system.
For those that do not want to disturb the actual page at all, could add the meta information in a separate page, but that would be harder to standardize and therefore find or use. But perhaps, this would still be useful to consider in terms of sitemap or newsfeed/RSS/Atom syndication.
Also, there might be a desire to print only the Meta ShowPage--just the metadata-- instead of a lengthy document or if the information in the metadata is useful and not present in the web page content section. Also, the Meta ShowPage may be a useful printed poster and method of allowing others to note or bookmark the document. And quite often in published paper books there is the page(s) near the beginning that includes the metadata about the publisher and printing, copyright, Library of Congress number, ISBN, etc. Although, PDF documents often include this convention, web pages do not often have the same convention.
Two features of the Meta ShowPage should be:
- To have the human readable web address/URL of the document or at least the link to the "handle" which can redirect or point based on the license or access rights to the document;
- And to have the machine processable version, especially the QR barcode, of the same URL. In the future there may be RFID or NFC embedded chips to send the URL directly to a nearby device.