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Another DAM Podcast interview with Kate Jordan Gofus on Digital Asset Management

Listen to Another DAM Podcast interview with Kate Jordan Gofus on Digital Asset Management

Full Transcript:

Henrik de Gyor:  [0:00] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Kate Jordan Gofus. Kate, how are you?

Kate Jordan Gofus:  [0:09] I’m well, how are you?

Henrik:  [0:10] Great. Kate, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management (DAM)?

Kate:  [0:14] I’m the digital librarian for a healthcare software company. My company focuses on and we primarily use videos to help educate patients and empower them in their healthcare journeys. I manage the video library for this company. We’re a pretty small shop, so I’m involved in all phases of the Digital Asset Management process. That includes rights management and vendor relations. I am a client resource. I work with implementation, our product and development teams. I work with our support teams, troubleshooting. We also use a homegrown Digital Asset Management system so I do work with our development team quite a bit.

Henrik:  [0:53] Kate, how does a company focus on interactive software to help hospitals get patients more involved in their own healthcare use Digital Asset Management?

Kate:  [1:01] Because our software solution primarily uses videos to educate and empower patients, we have a large number of videos to manage. This includes version control, distribution, everything about the Digital Asset Management. We have well over a hundred client sites, facilities, hospitals who are using our software platform, and thus, our videos. We use the Digital Asset Management system to centrally manage files, and also metadata, for thousands of videos that are going to the software platforms in these hospitals. The videos are about various topics, ranging from oncology to relaxation content, like nature videos. We use the Digital Asset Management system to manage key wording metadata so we can know what we have available, and also as a means of distributing that in a streamlined and efficient way. Healthcare changes really quickly. We need to be able to update our content in a quick and efficient way and we need to be able to update that content at the hospitals, not just in one place. We use the Digital Asset Management system to do that. The needs of our hospitals vary widely, so we needed a way to be able to distribute what a hospital wants or what a hospital needs specific to that hospital. The Digital Asset Management system allows us to maintain consistency across almost 200 hospitals and also control what is there, what isn’t there. It also has allowed us to support growth. When I started with the company a couple years ago, we had one‑third the number of client hospitals that we do now, and if we were still FTP‑ing video files to all of our hospital sites and then manually configuring the videos…

Henrik:  [2:53] That sounds more painful that way.

Kate:  [laughing] [2:55] My life would be really terrible. Right now we use the Digital Asset Management system to distribute files to all of those sites, and we also distribute the metadata, and the way in which the files and metadata are transferred, eases the configuration process at the individual hospital very much. We are constantly moving more towards automation and improving processes to make this less and less painful. That’s what we use it for, intellectual and physical control of our video files.

Henrik:  [3:26] Kate, what are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with DAM?

Kate:  [3:30] I think that one of the biggest challenges I’ve seen is finding the right tools or system to manage your assets. Every organization is different and is going to have different needs and different ideas of what DAM is and what it can do for them. I have seen purchased DAMs, I have now seen a homegrown DAM, there is always the argument between hosting your own content and having your content hosted externally. I think that it’s really difficult and important to make sure that you’re using the right solution for your needs. I think that one of the challenges is that sometimes people jump into Digital Asset Management without doing a background research first.

[4:11] Another challenge that I’ve seen is people expecting technology to fix everything and to do so immediately. A lot of Digital Asset Management is improving processes and documentation and writing and enforcing rules. That means dealing with people. Sometimes, I will be asked, “But I thought the Digital Asset Management system was supposed to fix this!” The answer is often, “Well, it did fix it. It made it possible, it didn’t make it necessarily instantaneous.” I think that, that is another challenge and that’s a perception thing. We are very lucky that we definitely have buy‑in on our Digital Asset Management system at my organization. We existed for a long time doing the same kind of work without a Digital Asset Management system, so I think there is an appreciation for ours.

[5:00] I also think that a challenge I’ve seen is that organizations are always evolving. Digital Asset Management systems, especially homegrown Digital Asset Management systems, are always evolving. You have customization, you have enhancements, improvements, things like that. It’s a delicate line to walk between improving your DAM and trying to force your DAM to do things that it wasn’t meant to do and shouldn’t do. It’s hard to draw the line sometimes and say, “Well, the DAM could maybe do that, but it’s not the best tool to use for that, and it’s not going to make our DAM better.”

[5:37] Some of the successes we’ve had, using the Digital Asset Management system and using it correctly, has increased our turnaround time on new video content by over a factor of four. It used to take significantly longer when we would get new content from either our partner vendors or from our clients. It used to take a really long time for us to get that loaded on all sites. That’s a big problem in health care because you always want the most up‑to‑date information, patients deserve the most up‑to‑date information. We’ve significantly cut down our turnaround time for loading video content. We’ve also improved consistency and control. I know for a fact that all of my sites have the most up‑to‑date videos that we have. I don’t have to go to every client site, every hospital, to figure that out. I can access all of that information through our Digital Asset Management system because our Digital Asset Management system is linked very closely with the software platforms that are installed at all of our hospitals. It has made it easier to manage the content, its also made it easier to answer questions. Internal and external stake holders have lots of questions about videos and sometimes they want to know if there’s other content available. It makes it easier when I can quickly look at what content they do have so I can tell them what they might want to add.

[7:04] We have almost 200 hospitals. They sometimes want to create their own videos or they have found some relaxation video that they think is really great and they want loaded on their software platform. They submit that to us and we will load it and configure it on their software platform for them. It has to be ingested through the Digital Asset Management system and encoded properly and we need metadata and all of that stuff, but we encourage our hospitals to add any content to their facility that they think will make their patient population happy or improve outcomes for their patient populations. Sometimes, I get questions from one of our hospitals asking if I know about any music programs that their patients may be interested in. I can look in our Digital Asset Management system and say, “Yes, actually. This other facility in a completely different part of the country has found this great vendor that they love and we already have the videos encoded and if you got the licensing rights on your own, through the Digital Asset Management system, I can transfer those to you and you don’t have to get the videos encoded on your own, you don’t have to buy DVDs from anybody, all you need is to give them a call and maybe a PO number.” That makes our clients really happy and it makes patients really happy and that makes me really happy.

Henrik:  [8:23] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

Kate:  [8:27] I think that something really important to remember is that a Digital Asset Management system, in my experience, never operates on its own. It’s never the only system that an organization is using. It is often seen as a support system, really. I think that it’s really important to continue to focus on interoperability and making it so that your system plays nicely with others and is not cogging up the works for your organization. I think that’s something that we need to continue to focus on as a DAM community.

[9:03] I also think its really important to focus on sustainability and scalability. We have a homegrown Digital Asset Management system, so I have a lot of input into how our DAM system evolved. That’s good, and that’s also dangerous. We need to make sure that any changes that we make are in the interest of sustainability and scalability so it doesn’t bite us in the bum later. I would say to people who are looking to get into the DAM profession, that you should be tenacious. Just try to fix the problems that you face in your organization as well as you can and recognize that it’s going to take a while and you’re probably going to have to try the same thing over and over a few times. Maybe differently, maybe the same way so that it works. Don’t be discouraged by big wigs who have fancy letters after their name. There are lots of different backgrounds in this field, and you don’t have to have gone to school for Information and Library Science to be good at this job, though I did. I think that, at the end, we’re really trying to fix problems and fixing them along the way. I think that if you are flexible and creative, you’re going to have more success fixing the problems. That’s what I would say.

Henrik:  [10:14] Well, thanks Kate.

Kate:  [10:15] Oh, you’re so welcome.

Henrik:  [10:15] For more on this and other Digital Asset Management topics, go to anotherdamblog.com. For this podcast, and 150 other podcast episodes, including transcripts of all the interviews, go to anotherdampodcast.com. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to email me at anotherdamblog@Gmail.com. Thanks again.


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Another DAM podcast interview with Rob Schuman on Digital Asset Management

Listen to Another DAM podcast interview with Rob Schuman on Digital Asset Management

Full Transcript:
Henrik de Gyor: [0:01] This is Another DAM podcast about Digital Asset Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor.
Today, I’m speaking with Rob Schuman.
Rob, how are you?

Rob Schuman: [0:10] Great.

Henrik: [0:11] Rob, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?

Rob: [0:14] Well, I got involved about 12 years ago, which was early for Digital Asset Management. Right now, I’m a general consultant. I help people organize, choose vendors, and help them implement the big change management that comes along with any DAM system. Also, advise people on technical issues of how to set up a DAM system that works well for everyone.

[0:39] Back when I was at Sesame Workshop, which was then called Children’s Television Workshop, the Sesame Street producers asked me if there was any way they could view their library without having to go up to the library and pull cassettes and cue up cassettes and all of that. The executive producers had a problem that they were reusing the same clips over and over and over again because those were the ones that people knew in their heads, while clips that were just as good were sitting in the library idle because no one wanted to take the time to go and find them.

[1:13] We said we’d do what we could, and about a year later, we developed one of the first DAM systems for video and television. It was very early in the DAM marketplace, and we believed it was the first or one of the first video Digital Asset Management systems. It was completely homegrown. We had any number of metadata fields and attached them to both proxy video and broadcast-quality video.

[1:41] We also were one of the first to include DAM as part of their workflow. It made producing the show so much easier, got them to do segments, have the segments approved by the producer, then get them right down into the edit room to complete them. I worked for Merck, the drug manufacturing company, and right now, I’m at the New York City Ballet. I call myself “content agnostic” because ultimately every company has their content professionals.

[2:11] They don’t need me to produce content for them. They need me to organize that content and make sure everybody has access to it and make sure that their workflows are automated. They don’t really need another person on content. Really, assets are assets, whether they’re talking about drugs, dance, or Sesame Street. I laugh that I worked for Sesame Street and Dow Jones, and the work is basically the same.

Henrik: [2:45] Organizing information?

Rob: [2:46] Yup, and making sure they can find it.

Henrik: [2:49] Yeah, very key. How does an organization focused on ballet use Digital Asset Management?

Rob: [2:56] Unlike music where there’s a score, dance is really a visual medium. Back in the mid 1980s, somebody had the idea of taking a VHS camcorder and sticking it up on the front of the balcony and taping the ballets. That stayed on VHS for a very long time, updated a little bit when camcorders became digital. They have a library of about 2, 500 or more performances.

[3:26] They have some rehearsals. It’s all on VHS tape. They got a grant from a government group called “Saving America’s Treasures” to try to rescue these. The New York City Ballet has this school so that the students could study choreographers like Balanchine or Jerome Robbins. What they’ve done is built their own Digital Asset Management in just stations.

[3:53] Right now, the theater has been redone with high-definition control room and high-definition cameras. All of the ballets or most of them are recorded as files, which we then add a whole lot of metadata to and put into their asset management system for anyone to find. You can look by choreographer by, of course, the date, and the musical piece.

[4:20] You can look at, “Let’s see all the variations of ‘The Nutcracker'” or “Let’s compare this choreographer’s version to that choreographer’s version.” They’re just starting to get to the launch of this. They want to put a computer and monitor in every dance studio that they’ve got. They have, I think, nine of them, including the ones from the school, so that they can work with the students and show them exactly how it’s done. Video is the only way to capture a live performance, and that’s what they do.

Henrik: [4:50] That’s great. Rob, what are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?

Rob: [4:57] The biggest challenge is the one that almost everybody faces. People think it’s choosing a DAM system or the technology you use or the metadata schema that you use, but really, it’s making sure that your customers are happy that there’s an acceptance of workflow changes. I’ve worked at places with both.

[5:18] At Sesame Street, we never really launched the DAM system, because by the time it came for the date to launch it, everybody had it. People saw it in beta and said, “I need this. I don’t care that it’s not ready. I don’t care, I’ll report bugs, but I want to use this.” That was a big success.

[5:37] At a big company like Merck, management came down and said, “We’re going to use this Digital Asset Management system,” and there was so much resistance. People were just tossing assets in there. There was a lot of metadata management that had to go followed up and a lot of wasted time, effort and energy that if you start with getting the folks enthusiastic, and if you get as close to their current workflows as possible and come in with the attitude that this is not something that management is demanding.

[6:12] This is something that will make your work easier and make you more productive. One example of that, again going back to Sesame Street, one day a woman came into my office in tears because she realized that the DAM system would be down over the weekend for some maintenance. She needed to get something done by Monday or her boss was going to be very angry with her, and she was just so afraid of that.

[6:39] I told her I would talk to her boss and smooth things out, but we still needed to maintain the system. But later, it occurred to me that that’s exactly how a successful DAM should be working. You should be upset if you can’t use it or if the system goes down, because it’s so critical to your work.

[6:58] Some more successfully than others tried to get across that being enthusiastic about the DAM and getting people on your side early in the game is the most important thing. The usual challenge, which is getting people on board and making sure that everything works, technology is changing so rapidly. One of the biggest challenges in DAM right now is the user interfaces.

[7:28] A lot of the systems that I’ve seen are really great on the back end, but forget that there are people on the front end who really need to be coaxed along, just throwing up a series of fields for them to fill in this form. It doesn’t help unless there’s a counteraction of, well, instead of having to write this on paper, or I can find stuff later if I put metadata on it now. Of course, there’s always the ‘metadata policeman’ who has to go in and look at everything going into the system.

Henrik: [8:01] We’re all familiar with those [laughs] , since we do those tasks regularly or we have in the past.

Rob: [8:08] One thing I did at Merck was I put a sign on my cubicle there that said, I thought “DAM” was too violent a word, even though we all like using it. I said this was “Marketing Operations Management,” and I thought “MOM”. Let’s call it the “MOM” system.

Henrik: [8:28] Rob, what advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

Rob: [8:33] Basically, the only real advice I can give is to go for it. It’s a young and growing area of computer and personal information and marketing information. I’d say study what you can. Ask questions. Learn about metadata. Learn from others. Go to the DAM meet-up to meet people and find out what they’re doing. Then, if you can, get the exposure to a DAM system.

[9:04] You don’t really need to go back to school for a full library degree to understand basic metadata. There’s a need for entry-level people to actually be the ‘metadata policemen’ and enter things into the DAM system. Generally, the person who is in charge of it doesn’t really have the time, particularly for the large systems, to go over what’s going in, to be the ‘metadata police’, so to speak, and make sure that the DAM system is loaded with all of the proper information.

[9:35] I used to advise television people, “Just go and get the exposure to it and show that you’re interested. Volunteer to do some stuff. Sure enough, when they need somebody, they’re going to turn to you, or somebody else is going to need somebody, they’re going to turn to you and get you started at a career.”

Henrik: [9:54] Well, thanks Rob.

Rob: [9:55] Rob: You’re welcome.

Henrik: [9:56] For more on this and other Digital Asset Management topics, go to anotherdamblog.com. Another DAM Podcast.com is available on AudioBoom and iTunes.

If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at AnotherDAMblog@Gmail.com. Thanks again.


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Another DAM podcast interview with Emily Kolvitz on Digital Asset Management

Listen to Another DAM podcast interview with Emily Kolvitz on Digital Asset Management

Full Transcript:

Henrik de Gyor:  [0:02] This is Another DAM podcast about Digital Asset Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today, I’m speaking with Emily Klovitz. Emily, how are you?

Emily Klovitz:  [0:12] I’m doing great. How are you?

Henrik:  [0:13] Great. Emily, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?

Emily:  [0:18] I’m involved in Digital Asset Management as both student and practitioner. I’m finishing my MLIS at the University of Oklahoma, and also working full time in the field. I currently am a digital asset manager for JCPenney at the home office. I’ve also worked on digital projects outside of a formal DAM environment, in archives and also a museum.

[0:48] Recently, I have become very involved in the DAM education and DAM community. Part of that is a desire to contribute to the field. Another part of that is just me segueing into the next phase of my life.

Henrik:  [1:05] Emily, how does the national retail chain use Digital Asset Management?

Emily:  [1:10] My company uses Digital Asset Management for a variety of reasons ‑‑ works in progress, distribution, and also brand management. In my specific area, we use Digital Asset Management for works in progress, and also on final, finished photography for marketing assets. The DAM is fairly new, only a couple of years old, and it’s really only been hard‑launched since last November [2013].

[1:39] There’s a lot of building going on right now. Basically, it’s such a large organization, there’re actually multiple DAM environments. We are positioning ours as the enterprise DAM, but we still have a long road ahead of us. In terms of other DAM systems, there are that some that makes sense, in terms of what kind of content is kept and described, and also the perks of that specific system.

[2:07] Then, the different challenges of the type of content we’re talking about. As time has passed, the various DAM managers have crossed paths, and it’s been very rewarding to speak to these people, and find out what we have in common, and where we can help each other out.

[2:25] There have also been systems that didn’t really provide value for the organization and were duplications of content. I worked very hard to get rid of those systems. They’ve been shut down, and that’s because we have been lucky to have very strong senior leadership and buy‑in behind our DAM.

[2:43] What’s really interesting about my organization, or any large organization trying to wrangle their content, is just the sheer number of assets you’re actually talking about. Also, the number of DAM systems actually used by the organization, because many times it’s often multiple DAM systems.

Henrik:  [3:02] What are the biggest challenges and successes with Digital Asset Management?

Emily:  [3:05] The biggest challenge to Digital Asset Management is change management. Everything else is a problem that can be solved logically. People are more tricky than that.

[3:16] The second biggest challenge is probably that DAM does not happen in a vacuum. There are more than likely other digital initiatives in your organization, and sometimes being able to see a bigger picture, even bigger than Digital Asset Management, can help an organization implement control over information chaos. This means information governance should be part of the Digital Asset Management strategy, or perhaps the DAM strategy is a facet of an overall digital strategy or information management strategy.

[3:53] It’s been very difficult for me to stay in my DAM bubble, so to speak, in the corporate world. As an information specialist, it is so glaringly obvious all the areas that could benefit from information governance. Yet there’s only one of you, and a DAM manager has many hats to wear. That’s what I feel are the biggest challenges to Digital Asset Management.

[4:20] Successes? I guess getting buy‑in feels really good. Growing your user adoption, that’s very rewarding. Any time you have even a slight increase in user adoption, that’s a big success, and you should take the time to celebrate it. Speaking of that, with your successes in Digital Asset Management, it’s OK to brag a little. It’s part of the advocating for your DAM, so usage reports and celebrating that kind of thing is good for DAM managers to do.

Henrik:  [4:57] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

Emily:  [5:03] Read everything you can get your hands on and don’t get married to a system. There are many sources for education pertaining to Digital Asset Management. Many of them are community‑, vendor‑ or organization‑based, not necessarily subjected to the rigor of scholarly publication and peer review, which we talked about previously.

[5:26] It’s important to be skeptical, I think. Verify the facts for yourself. Inspect methodologies, and don’t get sucked into buying something because of someone putting the weight of authority behind it. I also think that you should trust your gut, because you can usually tell when information is info‑fluff, versus substantial information that adds to your understanding.

[5:54] The part about the DAM system, we’re usually the ones enacting the change and we’re not the ones who have to deal with it, because we’re starting the change. But you have to be cognizant of this may not be the best solution long term, and you can’t marry a system. It’s not about the technology. Digital Asset Management is so much more than that. You need to constantly be benchmarking your DAM, inspecting your practices, and getting better and better so you can grow as a digital asset manager.

Henrik:  [6:29] Great. Well thanks, Emily.

Emily:  [6:31] Thanks for having me.

Henrik:  [6:32] For more on Digital Asset Management topics, log on to anotherdamblog.com. Another DAM podcast is available on AudioBoo and iTunes. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at anotherdamblog@gmail.com. Thanks again.


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Another DAM podcast interview with Douglas Hegley on Digital Asset Management

Listen to Another DAM podcast interview with Douglas Hegley on Digital Asset Management

Full Transcript:

Henrik de Gyor:  [0:00] This is Another DAM podcast about Digital Asset Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Douglas Hegley. Douglas, how are you?

Douglas Hegley:  [0:10] I’m good, thank you.

Henrik:  [0:11] Douglas, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?

Douglas:  [0:14] Currently, I sit at the executive leadership level in a major fine art museum in the Twin Cities. I would be the ultimate decision maker. The Digital Asset Management systems would be operated underneath my responsibility.

Henrik:  [0:27] Douglas, how does a fine art museum use Digital Asset Management?

Douglas:  [0:31] What’s interesting, I think, what might be a misnomer for some people, the Digital Asset Management in an art museum is actually a business driver like it is in any business. Art museums have art objects. Those objects themselves have data records for them, and those are kept in a different system.

[0:47] But we do need a Digital Asset Management system for keeping photographs of those objects, and often there will be many of those. Various angles, raking lights. Sometimes x‑ray, other spectrometer those kinds of things, as well as images of people and parties and the history of the institution. It goes on and on and on.

[1:06] I would say at this point that museums are still sticking mostly with still images in terms of Digital Asset Management. We haven’t fully embraced media asset management. We’re producing videos and that production is accelerating. I don’t think we’ve really faced some of the struggles we’re going to have, similar to the ones we had with digital photography 5 or 10 years ago.

Henrik:  [1:27] What are the biggest challenges and successes with Digital Asset Management?

Douglas:  [1:31] There are many. One of the biggest challenges for us as an industry is that our metadata models are not mature. There are many different standards for the way that you would record what is in that picture. The built‑in metadata is easy enough ‑‑ date and file sizes and everything else.

[1:53] For us, since it’s often object centered photography so we’ve taken that three‑dimensional sculpture, we’ve taken it to the photo studio, lighting it, shooting it.

[2:02] How do you attach that asset to the record that’s in a different system that describes that object? We struggle with moving data back and forth, mirroring data, coming up with better methods of attaching the digital assets themselves to all of the other kinds of content that we have about an art object.

[2:22] Then, I think for us, being non‑profits, being small, being very tight funding models, affording a fancy Digital Asset Management system is a bit of a struggle. Then the first foray into digital photography that museums took beginning about 10 years ago, we had a tendency to over buy. We would be sold very fancy Digital Asset Management systems that could do lots and lots of wonderful things.

[2:48] None of which we ever took advantage of.

[2:49] We kept paying the fee every year, and throwing the assets in, and struggling with metadata models. Not really making much progress. The success is that when I worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art the photo studio went digital. Within about a year, they had amassed an enormous closetful of CDs.

[3:09] How do we go back and find those images that we shot a year ago? If there’s a success that’s clear it’s in the capacity to locate, download, relocate, reshoot when necessary the assets that are actually needed. It’s not a manual process anymore. We can have multiple users log into a system, find the image you’re looking for.

Henrik:  [3:25] You can more rapidly search, find, use, reuse, repurpose.

Douglas:  [3:30] I think that was a clear business win. I also think it’s aged a little bit. That win really took place…at the Met it probably took place about 2003, 2004. I’m currently at the MIA. They had a system that’s about the same age. The systems are, in essence, aging because they’re becoming full of assets, and because the metadata model, as I mentioned before, is really not mature or specific enough.

[3:54] Really not mature or specific enough. We have issues with overflow of result set. People go in and they search on something like “Rembrandt.” They’ll get thousands of returns. Many of which are place‑holder records. They are old black and white study photographs. It’s not clear which one I’m supposed to use for my marketing campaign.

[4:15] I go and start asking my friends. Now we’ve blown it out of the water. The reason they have an asset management system is so that anybody, even with a cursory knowledge of what they’re looking for, should be able to come in and get what they need.

Henrik:  [4:28] True. Let’s use that example of searching for Rembrandt and you get documents and records, and then maybe some photos of the Rembrandts that you may have. Can’t you filter down to, say, “paintings of” from the thousand records for the sake of argument?

Douglas:  [4:41] Again, when you over buy a system of course that functionality is there. Users need a lot of training to understand how to use it.

Henrik:  [4:49] Add that information in all fairness.

Douglas:  [4:50] Right, exactly. The only keyword on the photograph is Rembrandt. I should say the photograph on maybe 700 photographs. There isn’t a really good mature metadata model. Now, maybe the photographers remember because they know that only Charles would be shooting the master image. He shot those paintings about in 2007.

Henrik:  [5:12] At high resolution blah, blah, blah with the proper lighting.

Douglas:  [5:14] They can go in the system and they can say, “I only need things shot by Charles. I want them 2007. I want them only the TIFFs.” They can get that for you.

Henrik:  [5:22] To your point, you can search for the TIFF, or you can search for the file type, meaning, “I don’t want a .doc of Rembrandt’s about the insurance record, or the transfer record, or the purchase record or whatever. I want the TIFF or the raw file or the JPEG or whatever.”

Douglas:  [5:39] Although, to be clear, we’re not currently in the DAMs that we have storing any .docs. They could, I suppose. We’re not doing that.

Henrik:  [5:45] Or PDF, for that matter?

Douglas:  [5:46] There may be a few PDFs. That’s not really the core business case right now. The core use is still images, high res, primarily objects. Secondarily, events, people, activities of a museum being recorded.

[6:02] We also have an archive dating back 130 years, but it’s a physical archive. A few of those things get digitized now and then because there’s some need for them in a publication or something, so some of those things in there. Right now, it’s mostly just still image.

Henrik:  [6:19] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals, and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

Douglas:  [6:23] It’s a really good question. First of all, I don’t consider myself the world’s expert on answering this question. I would say that in the museum arena, which is the arena I know best, museums are in need of people to come into our world and help us adapt best practices, help understand how businesses are running in this way.

[6:48] One of the core differences, in a way, is that we’re all looking at Digital Asset Management systems as if they are at their core set up to be persistent electronic archives. We’re not a for‑profit vendor who is creating products for which there are seasons and catalogues and websites to be made, and campaigns to be run, advertising, marketing, press, everything else, and then a year later it’s all new products. It doesn’t matter what happens to the photos of the shoes from last year.

[7:18] For us, every time we take a photo, there are a number of things. First of all, I’d say it’s a fine work of art. You’ve moved it from its safe storage space into a photo studio. Any time you move something that old and that fragile, you’re damaging it. Maybe it’s not obvious, but you have micro‑fractures, or you’re exposing it to different atmospheric conditions, or different lighting conditions, whatever it may be. You’re actually not doing good by the artwork.

[7:46] I don’t mean to belabor that point, because people are very professional and very careful. Accidents almost never happen, but it’s still a fact that it’s a risk. If we’re going to do this, we’re going to move this work of art into a studio, light it, shoot it, let’s do it at the absolute most professional, highest resolution that we can.

[8:07] Let’s get as many angles. Let’s get as many types of spectral photographs that we can manage right now so that we put that wonderful and rare and unique object back into its secure storage space and don’t touch it again for years.

[8:20] What we’re doing is we’re capturing these incredible photographs, but we’re amateur in then what we do next. We have a very professional production process, followed by a very amateur archival metadata process.

Henrik:  [8:36] Does the workflow fall off? Is that your point?

Douglas:  [8:39] Workflow falls off a little bit. The folks who are doing it are probably the photographers themselves, and/or relatively junior people, probably not a strong metadata library background. I don’t mean to single anyone out. There are certainly people there who are skilled. If any of them were to leave their positions, it’d be hard to replace them.

[8:58] It’s specialist knowledge. Even with that specialist knowledge, what’s missing then is some real world experience of having run this kind of system, where it’s a really rapid fire production environment.

Henrik:  [9:10] You’re embedding the information, to your point. That may be missing because most photographers don’t like adding metadata to their files. There’s a lot of value to finding it again if they add a lot more than just the word Rembrandt, to your point earlier.

Douglas:  [9:24] You’re right. There’s been talk here at the Henry Stewart DAM New York about having workflows that would capture data that would then automatically become metadata. That’s terrific. There you get subject and photographer assigned, and all these other kinds of things that can happen automatically.

[9:41] In the use cases that we’re seeing, though, whether it’s internal. In the internal, you would have content creators, writers, editors, people working with the press, marketing, whatever it may be. They don’t think in those more academic, scholarly ways. They want the hero image of “Lucretia” by Rembrandt, and they want to be able to get it right now because they’re on the phone with someone who wants to do a story.

[10:03] We need keywording in a very…

Henrik:  [10:07] Consistent way?

Douglas:  [10:08] It’s consistent, but it’s also natural language. We have keywording that says things like in the acrylic on canvas.

Henrik:  [10:18] Which you probably have a few.

Douglas:  [10:19] Yeah. Oil on canvas, oil on copper, terracotta, these kinds of things, which are very important and they are the fact.

Henrik:  [10:26] Yes, the medium.

Douglas:  [10:27] When your press agent is on the phone with a reporter from the New York Times, they don’t go to the system and type in terracotta.

[10:34] They are on the phone, they’re talking, they’re trying to type to try to type things like clay, pot, Africa, bead work and you do desperately trying to find the image, like, “I am trying to find it for you right now, Mr. such and such.”

[10:47] Because we don’t have that piece in there, it makes the system of much less use to them. So instead what they’re doing is emailing somebody, like a photographer, their friend, saying, “What do you have that pot for Africa with the beads?” They’re like, “Oh yeah, sure” and so two people get involved in the work when it really should just be one.

Henrik:  [11:03] It is really tied to, in part, institutional knowledge.

Douglas:  [11:06] Here is what I want, because I am not a Digital Asset Management worker, expert, it is not my training, but if you had an organization that was constantly feeding stories to the press. So whatever that may be, there must be folks out there who do sports photography, something like that.

[11:28] They got to be uploading those things quickly, they got to be tagging them with the kinds of words that sportswriters are going to use, like “World Series Game 3” and you better have it or no one is going to use your images.

[11:36] We don’t have that discipline, is a weird word for it because it is kind of lightweight, but it’s so absolutely necessary to make the asset findable across a much broader swath of people.

[11:49] If I were to tie it back to some of the strategies that we’ve been talking about in the art museum world anyways that we have been in an industry that for 150 years has been in the kind of, if you build it, they will come mode.

[12:04] We’re great, we’re fancy, everyone should come. If you’re not coming, there’s something wrong with you.

[12:10] This was the old model, the old elite model in having an art museum. What you’re seeing art museums do in the last, I don’t know, 10 years, maybe a little bit more and say, “No, no, no, no. Look, this is important. Art education being gutted in this country, creative thinking gutted, innovation gutted.”

[12:27] You can’t get this kind of stuff in school anymore. You should come to a museum. That makes museums need to be more engaging, more embracing of different points of view.

[12:38] Instead of saying to someone, “Welcome to the museum, you must be very proud to be here,” we have to say, “Welcome to the museum, we are really glad you are here. How can we help you have an experience that you will never forget?”

Henrik:  [12:49] To your point, even with DAM, it needs to be more accessible. Once they are more accessible, then people can obain it. Hypothetically in the virtual museum sense, I’ve worked with some that are doing that piecemeal. That’s the future challenge, I assume, with some.

Douglas:  [13:07] That’s the tactical implementation of a philosophical point. Let’s say our PR marketing hire a couple of young social media folks. They want to throw together a Tumblr site or a Pinterest or Instagram. They want to grab some photos from the collection.

[13:23] They go into the system and start saying like, “Give me an exciting photo that shows women having fun.” The system doesn’t have anything like that in there. It has like Matisse “Bathers,” but that is not what a 28‑year‑old social media manager is looking for.

[13:38] I know we’re a little bit, I’m beating the horse to death here, a little bit, but it is a metadata model is less about this sort of deep scholarly academic information and more about, “Hey, guys, what exactly do we have here?”

Henrik:  [13:49] That could be controlled but that could be a taxonomy, because of those events, to your point earlier, happened regularly in the kinds of activities that happen in the museum, because there’s only so many things that will happen in a museum.

Douglas:  [laughs] [14:00] There is a lot of things that will happen in the museum.

Henrik:  [14:01] That are permissible in a museum.

[14:02] [laughter]

Henrik:  [14:05] If it’s a fundraiser, or…

Douglas:  [14:08] It is funny, we’re beholden to our own approach when I worked at the Metropolitan. There were years when there were almost 20,000 events on the event calendar in 365 days.

[14:18] Now I am at a smaller regional museum, but the number of events still is in the thousands for year. Now that’s counting things like tours and school groups coming in, but each of these things happen and we are slaves to our own success in this way. We do not want to stop doing all of that.

[14:36] It is a little overwhelming, there’s photography of all a lot of it that nobody can find and that is the whole point of having a DAM in the first place.

Henrik:  [14:44] Thank you, Douglas.

Douglas:  [14:45] Thank you.

Henrik:  [14:46] For more on Digital Asset Management, log on to anotherdamblog.com. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at anotherdamblog@gmail.com. Thanks again.


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Another DAM podcast interview with Jessica Berlin on Digital Asset Management

Listen to Another DAM podcast interview with Jessica Berlin on Digital Asset Management

Full Transcript:

Henrik de Gyor:  [0:01] This is Another DAM podcast about Digital Asset Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor.

[0:06] Today, I’m speaking with Jessica Berlin. Jessica, how are you?

Jessica Berlin:  [0:10] I’m good. How are you?

Henrik:  [0:11] Great. Jessica, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?

Jessica:  [0:14] I am the National Director of Digital Asset Management for the American Cancer Society. I started with them about six years ago in their Creative Services Department. As the need for a new tool came up, there was a workgroup formed, and I became quite involved with that workgroup.

[0:32] Through that work, the development of a DAM department came to light. Fast‑forward through the application process, I became the Director of Digital Asset Management.

Henrik:  [0:43] Congratulations.

Jessica:  [0:44] Thank you.

Henrik:  [0:45] How does a national non‑profit organization use Digital Asset Management?

Jessica:  [0:49] In some ways, we use it the same way as anybody uses a DAM, but we also do a lot of things differently. We use our DAM more as a marketplace, if you will, for our assets. We want to make sure that all of our staff, our volunteers, and our external partners have access to everything they would need to use to promote the lifesaving work that the American Cancer Society does.

[1:11] For our media partners, they need to be able to access our public service announcements. For our volunteers, they need to be able to access fundraising materials and advocacy materials, as they spread the word around that. Our staff needs to be able to have materials that have the most up‑to‑date and correct messaging guidelines, cancer information, as they go out into the communities to spread that word.

[1:37] Our DAM is a way to make sure that everyone is using the most current materials. We don’t have to worry about what channel do we find this on? Is this current information? Is it outdated? Are these statistics correct? This way, we can insure that everybody’s accessing the right materials.

Henrik:  [1:52] And, I assume, in a more consistent fashion?

Jessica:  [1:55] Absolutely.

Henrik:  [1:56] What are the biggest successes and challenges with Digital Asset Management?

Jessica:  [2:00] Our biggest challenge has been making sure what we deliver matches what we’ve promised. We’ve done an excellent job communicating how our new DAM ‑‑ which will launch, hopefully, very soon ‑‑ will be heads and shoulders above the previous tool, how it will make everybody’s lives easier, how they’re no longer going to have to try to figure out where to find things and how to search for things.

[2:23] They’re very excited about it. We’ve got that tremendous buy‑in. We’ve got to make sure that what we give them matches that. We’ve run into some problems along the way. Part of that included delaying the launch of our tool, so that we could make sure that we fulfill on that promise we made to them. By far, the biggest challenge is making sure those add up.

Henrik:  [2:43] Just so I’m clear, is it a technology change, or was there something much different from DAM X to DAM Y?

Jessica:  [2:48] Completely different, apples and oranges.

Henrik:  [2:51] Ok. Beyond the technology, what changed?

Jessica:  [2:53] Internally, there have been a lot of different things that have come up within the American Cancer Society. We’ve merged a lot of programs, and we’ve merged a lot of departments and changed the structure. In that, you have redundancy of assets. You have outdated materials that have been used here, but not here. It’s almost an overhaul of the entire asset collection that we have on top of it.

Henrik:  [3:17] So, it wasn’t just the technology. It was also the information, the assets to your point?

Jessica:  [3:19] Yes. We’ve done an excellent job communicating what’s coming, getting the users ready to adopt that product, and really getting them excited about it. Unfortunately, on the other side of that, having to delay it has been a challenge for us. We have people that are so excited about, emailing us constantly, saying, “Well, what’s the ETA on that? When can we get into that? We know it’s going to be fantastic.”

[3:40] We’re really excited about how well it’s already being perceived and it hasn’t even launched yet.

Henrik:  [3:44] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

Jessica:  [3:48] I would say, my piece of advice for people trying to get into the DAM world, if you will, would be to understand what their responsibilities are. On top of the traditional pieces, you’re going to be a cat herder. Looking to a new DAM, developing a DAM, or running a DAM is not a decision of a sole person. You have to…

Henrik:  [4:09] It could be…

[4:10] [laughter]

Jessica:  [4:11] It should not be. You have to make sure you have a group of cross‑functional responsibilities involved in that. Sometimes, that can be very challenging to get those people together in a room and to make DAM a priority, when it’s not a priority in their day‑to‑day tasks.

[4:24] You also have to be a salesman, which nobody likes to be.

Henrik:  [4:28] True.

Jessica:  [laughs] [4:29] You have to really get user adoption amongst your organization. That means throwing out those various road shows, going around being a cheerleader for your product, and getting people excited about. People focus on the implementation and getting the metadata correct and the taxonomy correct and the assets reviewed. They forget about the customer service side of it.

Henrik:  [4:51] After production starts and still keeps on going after it.

Jessica:  [4:55] Exactly, the trainings, the communications, and such. Those are things that I would let people know that they’ve got to make sure they enjoy that part of it, as well.

Henrik:  [5:04] You’re basically bringing the rhetorical plate of milk…

Jessica:  [5:08] Yes, pizza, milk, chocolate, whatever it may be.

Henrik:  [laughs] [5:12] To bring all those cats together for that common goal. Excellent. Thanks, Jessica.

Jessica:  [5:18] Thank you.

Henrik:  [5:19] For more on Digital Asset Management, logon to anotherdamblog.com.

Another DAM podcast is available on iTunes and AudioBoo.

[5:26] If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at anotherdamblog@gmail.com.

Thanks again.


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Another DAM podcast interview with Tobias Blanke on Digital Asset Management

Listen to Another DAM podcast interview with Tobias Blanke on Digital Asset Management

Full Transcript:

Henrik de Gyor:  [0:01] This is Another DAM podcast about Digital Asset Management. I am Henrik de Gyor. Today, I am speaking with Tobias Blanke.

Tobias, how are you?

Tobias Blanke:  [0:10] I’m all right. How are you Henrik?

Henrik:  [0:12] Great. Tobias, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?

Tobias:  [0:16] I am the current director of the MA in Digital Asset and Media Management at King’s College, London. As far as we can see, this is still the only full postgraduate qualification directly related to this field [of Digital Asset and Media Management].

[0:33] There are, of course, a lot of individual modules, but not a full MA in the course. We have been running this MA now for three years and it has become very successful. We are very pleased with it, I myself, I’m a senior lecturer in this department the MA is running, that’s about the equivalent in the US of an Associate Professor.

[0:53] My research is mainly on data infrastructures, media industries, and this kind of things. What we are particularly proud of is how we are able to translate our own research into this degree. This is how I became initially involved in digital asset management.

[1:11] What I find most fascinating by interacting with all these students who come from various industries and other nations to us to study the degree is to learn how far and wide reaching the impact of this seemingly small field has become. This is also one of the reasons why I wrote a book, which I guess you’re going to talk about today, Henrik.

Henrik:  [1:33] Of course. To clarify, MA is the Master’s?

Tobias:  [1:36] Yes, it’s a Master’s degree. It’s a post credit qualification, so after your BA. I think you have the same in the US, only that yours is two years, and we have a one year MA here in London.

Henrik:  [1:45] You recently wrote a book titled “The Ecosystem of Digital Assets: Crowds and Clouds.” Tell us more about what inspired you to write this.

Tobias:  [1:55] The title changed slightly. It’s now called “Digital Asset Ecosystems: Rethinking crowds and clouds

[2:02] This is a direct reflection of what I said earlier about the interaction I have with my students and other fellow members of the academic staff here, about the development of the field of digital asset management and digital media management.

[2:17] I think we quite soon noticed that there is, of course, already quite a lot of discussion on, I would call this now, the traditional application domains of digital media management and digital asset management, which are often about organizing digital assets in an organization… organizing them in such a way that you can retrieve them efficiently, and so on.

[2:39] But there’s also, I think, if you come from it from the perspective like myself, which is slightly more computational, and also more in relation to what we would call Internet studies and these fields, if you come from these fields to Digital Asset Management.

[2:54] Then, you notice, actually, the importance that digital content has not just in a single organization, but to bring together various organizations across the Internet, across the globe, and integrate their workflows of working together around the digital content they produce and consume together.

[3:15] That was the original intention when I wrote the book. The book has four chapters. The first one is the background and introduction chapter. The second one, which discusses these kinds of general perspectives on the evolution of digital assets, and also introduces the concepts of digital ecosystems, which is also quite hotly debated recently.

[3:39] It is one of those concepts where you don’t really exactly can define what it is about. But it basically describes how businesses and other organizations bring together their data, tools and services, but also, the people that work for them and with them into a kind of integrated environment on the Internet.

[4:01] That then led to the subtitle of this book, which was called “Crowds and Clouds”, where we basically see how ecosystems are constituted by crowds, so the people who work with an organization and around an organization. And they work with this organization using platforms or clouds to produce and consume digital assets. This was the background section, where I discuss these kinds of concepts and the evolution of Digital Asset Management.

[4:28] Then, there is further sections discussing the technologies and methodologies, that really describe the kind of evolution of this platform I was just describing, and analyze that for also its future potential.

[4:42] Then, there is something that is very important to us, if you also work in a public sector, about how open or closed the ecosystems are around these digital assets. Anyone who’s ever used, let’s say, the Apple iCloud will know what I’m talking about.

[4:57] There’s challenges of sharing certain types of content. And this is, of course, an indication of the kind of business model that Apple, for instance, wants to develop around its digital content. Then, I also have, finally, two chapters which discuss “Big Data”, which is, of course, a big topic in the field.

[5:16] Then, also the kind of wider economic and society implications. What are actually these global workflows that I mentioned earlier? And how do they link together around this digital content? And how do these crowds and clouds integrate with each other.

[5:33] I’m particularly interested, at the very end, to discuss a kind of new idea for digital asset values, which is related to so called network value, which is something that I describe as you become something else on the Internet that nobody else can do without anymore.

[5:53] The standard example for me is always Google Maps. You always wonder why Google has published this freely and openly. But, of course, we recently found out that by publishing this freely and openly, they generated a lot of network value for these maps or assets that they have, because really most all applications on the Internet now run on these maps.

[6:19] This is really to say what I tried to do. I tried to think a little bit about the assumption that digital asset management has a much wider application domain than, maybe, certain traditional ideas about it, and I wanted to write this book mainly to really practically lay down what my own research agenda for this kind of field would be.

Henrik:  [6:41] If you read the show notes, there will be a giveaway of Tobias’ new book. Take a look at anotherdampodcast.com for more information. Tobias, what are the biggest challenges and successes with Digital Asset Management?

Tobias:  [6:53] That’s, of course, a great question and a grand challenge to answer. I could talk about technologies, and also methodologies, and also business applications, but, of course, one of my primary interests in this field is the development of educational frameworks for it. I still think it’s quite a challenge for us.

[7:12] I don’t know how you feel about this in your professional practice, Henrik, but it’s quite a challenge for us to make organizations and businesses understand the kind of educational background, the skills, and so on digital asset and media managers need.

[7:30] Also, we have to learn this, because, of course, there’s a wide range in different ways of applying digital media now in the world. We find it interesting, but also really challenging to actually define exactly the kind of skills and professional qualifications that a digital asset manager needs.

[7:49] I think it lies somewhere between some kind of very lightweight computing understanding, so that you can talk to developers, at least. They then go on, of course, to deeper business knowledge around digital content. Then, of course, into the more established fields that one might immediately associate with this, which are more related to information science like metadata and those kind of questions.

[8:14] Now, the greatest success of Digital Asset Management is in a way, I think, the things I already mentioned in my last answer. The importance that people feel about the value of digital content in all kinds of digital industries. I think to say we can really see how this knowledge and understanding is now taking hold of many industries if you just look around here in London, which is, of course, a global hub for these digital industries.

[8:44] The challenges are related to making organizations and companies understand what kind of qualifications and skills are needed based on the success we already had, in a way, and making them understand how important digital content and the curation and preservation and the making use of the digital content in other forms really has become.

Henrik:  [9:06] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

Tobias:  [9:11] I think it’s a great job to get into. [laughs] My first advice would be try it. I’m not sure whether you need at an entry level necessarily professional qualification like we offer. Or, even a degree. But, I guess, you will find out soon that it helps you to advance to the more advanced levels.

[9:29] The real, to say, advantage of becoming, I think, a DAM professional, if you want to become one, is that you really sit at the heart of the operations of a digital organization in the 21st century. You really sit there where the content is produced and consumed, where the data is exchanged, and so on.

[9:51] If you are already a DAM professional, I think you should, that doesn’t mean that you have to study here, you should think hard whether it is enough what you have already learned through the practice that you’ve done, and whether you not need some kind of more education.

[10:08] I can only say that, for myself, who considers himself also to be, in a way, a DAM professional. Only through the interactions with all our students and the other people that we met from the wonderful DAM community, which is a global, great family.

[10:24] We have really learned to say how much is involved in this field, and I think it’s really important that DAM professionals keep learning that too. In my experience, highly advisable that you try and stay up‑to‑date in whatever form, with the developments in this field.

Henrik:  [10:42] There is a fair amount of education out there, or even enrichment, to your point.

Tobias:  [10:46] It’s really, Henrik, I don’t know how you feel about it. It’s a field that is evolving very fast, but you also need to stay up‑to‑date with the field, however that might work.

[10:56] You can visit the conferences. You can visit the wonderful blogs of Henrik. You can read even more academic publications like The Journal of Media Management and all these kinds of things. I think that is not to say that you have to go back to school or university, but it’s really important I think, in all digital fields that you try to constantly change your self and evolve.

Henrik:  [11:18] Great point. Of course there’s plenty of new books out there, about Digital Asset Management, including the one you’ve written.

Tobias:  [11:25] We’re also going to publish another one, which you can interview us in about half‑a‑year, about more the theory and practice of the general background of Digital Asset Management.

Henrik:  [11:33] Fantastic. Thank you so much, Tobias.

Tobias:  [11:35] It was nice meeting you, Henrik.

Henrik:  [11:36] For more information on Digital Asset Management, log onto AnotherDAMblog.com.

Another DAM podcast is available on iTunes and AudioBoo. If you have any comments or questions please feel free to email me at AnotherDAMblog@Gmail.com. Thanks again.

Book Giveaway

You see, there is a benefit to reading the transcripts found in this podcast series. We are giving away one free copy of Tobias Blanke’s new book titled Digital Asset Ecosystems: Rethinking crowds and clouds. To enter this book giveway, email the podcast host with a one paragraph summary on what this book is about (from the transcript above) by no later than August 24, 2014. A random drawing of the email submissions will award one lucky winner free book. The book will come directly from the author. You could even ask for the book to be autographed and personalized from the author himself, Tobias Blanke.

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