Sally Gore had another interesting post on the topic of the bifurcation of data or data that is not within its context. What I found interesting about this post was that in the rush to offer services to researchers that these data are taken out of context like so many other things currently in our society. In reading this article, I was reminded of the early years of digitization and digital collections. The rush was to scan as much as possible and put it online. More often than not, there was no context provided with the digital asset, which was some stand alone artifact. Even today, I see digital collections built on the principle of a huge quantity of digital assets that will help sustain a digital repository as well as secure some long-term preservation goal. This reminds of the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Thinking back on Sally’s post on big data, what happens when those words aren’t those of the researcher or have nothing what so ever to do with the image or data? And therein lies the problem. It is not just a problem for researchers but for all those who publish data (whether digital assets, data sets, theses, etc.). The problem is that these data will be taken out of context at some point. I’m not sure how many times I’ve heard people refer to the tree that falls and no one hears it (G. Berkeley) or is the pipe really a pipe (R. Magritt). But rarely do they know the philosophies behind it or even the person who wrote about it. Unlike completely anonymous data, my philosophical references are rooted in a fairly complex context. This is the other side of the problem. If research and data are not put in context by those who understand the research and data then I would place my bet on the eventual misuse of those data and research or perhaps even their lose. In Sally’s example, she mentions that data are collected, analyzed, and managed for certain reasons decided by the researcher. To avoid complete misuse of these data or their loss, it’s important for that researcher to provide the context for these data. This is the realm of documentation or in the library world metadata. Of course metadata cannot solve every misuse of data but it can put a damper on it. In my examples, it was fairly easy to find the context of the pipe and the tree, granted with several different perspectives. But it is through that prism and the original painting or book where the quote was taken that I can read or consult for myself. This is why documentation is so extremely crucial. It is also a step often overlooked or thought of as some secondary task of filling out some silly web form to get data into a repository. Documentation is as necessary and important as the data and research. If researchers don’t recognize this, then their data risks being misused to a greater degree or even lost. To go back to the image, with no context, people will make up one of their own, sometimes for their own benefit. I saw the webinar on Diversity in Data Management and noticed that metadata often takes a back seat. Even where I work and with the workshops we provide for researchers, metadata or documentation is considered boring or too much trouble for the effort. Even with researchers with the best intentions, adding enough metadata to contextualize data in the digital repository is seen as a secondary thought. Unfortunately, I’ve seen this from many librarians and even some who add and manage content in a digital repository. Is this something that librarians can come to the rescue and resolve? I would say no, not really. This might seem pessimistic but actually it goes back to one of the central points in Sally’s post, namely it is the researcher who can provide context. I would say that as a librarian it is not up to me to provide context for that which I don’t understand. However, I can help those understand the benefit of documentation as many catalogers and metadata librarians have been doing for a very long time. Hopefully, people realize the benefits of metadata to help them safeguard their data and research from misuse or loss.