February 14th is St Valentine’s day. It is also the day we celebrate the patron saints of metadata.
Commemorated on this day are a pair of Slavonic brothers Saints Cyril and Saint Methodius who are the patron saints of data management. Cyril and Methodius began translating the Bible in the 9th Century but ran up against the problem of the lack of a suitable alphabet.
This is a common research problem: They had access to a substantial body of important information; they wanted to share this with a wider audience, and to ensure that it was transmitted accurately and preserved for posterity in a way that would be easily comprehensible. When they found that no existing encoding system was adequate for the task, they set about developing a new one.
Undeterred, Cyril invented a new coding system. He invented a new alphabet. His work formed the basis for Cyrillic, still widely used today. Methodius ‘s name was actually Michael but he changed it to reflect his key research priorities: persistent pursuit of truth conducted in an orderly and methodical way.
How many among us now are so committed to our research that we would change our name?