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.

Another DAM podcast interview with JA Pryse on Digital Asset Management

Listen to Another DAM podcast interview with JA Pryse on Digital Asset Management

Here are the questions asked:

  • How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
  • You were recently awarded a fellowship on Digital Asset Management. Tell us more about this.
  • What are the biggest challenges and successes with Digital Asset Management?
  • What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

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 JA Pryse. JA, how are you?

JA Pryse:  [0:10] I’m good. Thank you for having me on, Henrik.

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

JA:  [0:17] I was hired by the Oklahoma Historical Society in 2010 to process the [00:23] Carmen Gee collection, which is a very large collection. By process I mean the manuscripts, audio, video, and photographs. The project contained over 91 linear feet of manuscripts, close to 350,000 images, 207 mixed audios, and a number of video and some recordings. My job was to digitize and process the collection.

[0:47] That was my first introduction into Asset Management.

Henrik de Gyor:  [0:51] You were recently awarded a fellowship on Digital Asset Management. Tell us more about this.

JA:  [0:57] Oklahoma is pretty new on the digitizing field, and we’re relatively new as far as policy and procedures go. Of course, we have a huge collection especially with the five million image Gateway to Oklahoma history newspaper project, and the OPUBCO collection that we do have.

[1:14] My proposal was surrounding long‑term Digital Asset Management. I felt the Smithsonian Institute Archives, the way that they run their program and the way that they manage their assets, is something that I definitely want to model and bring back to the Oklahoma Historical Society.

[1:32] The proposal I wrote was concerning that, and the research that I will do for two weeks while I am residing there.

Henrik:  [1:39] Is this in Washington DC?

JA:  [1:40] Yes, April 5th through the 19th this year [2014].

Henrik:  [1:44] Sounds very exciting.

JA:  [1:45] It is. I’m looking forward to it, I’ve never been to Washington DC. My mission is to develop a management plan and best practice strategies for all of our assets that we have here.

Henrik:  [1:55] Fantastic. What are the biggest challenges and successes with Digital Asset Management?

JA:  [2:00] For the Oklahoma Historical Society and for myself and my department, there is pretty much one person handling each media format. And of course, we always go through budget cuts and we’re the first one to be cut in the state since we are a state agency.

[2:18] There’s only one of me, and the ethics grant has a total of one scanner ‑‑ which is a part‑time scanner ‑‑ one part‑time indexer, one volunteer indexer and I. Also, I like to say I moonlight as an audio engineer, an archivist, but have taken a lot of classes and lot of educational steps to get into the audio engineering field and audio archiving in the oral history collection.

[2:45] Whenever we do acquire new audio collections such as the Clara Luper collection, where it was an audio tape…every one of Clara Luper’s…who’s an African‑American archivist in the region. She had a radio show. We acquired that collection. It had 19 linear feet of audio tapes and cassettes. We’re going to digitize those.

[3:07] The biggest challenge is not having more than one me to handle the newspaper project as well as the audio digitization projects that we have.

Henrik:  [3:17] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

JA:  [3:22] I spoke to a class this morning that was doing a tour of the archives that we have here at the Oklahoma Historical Society. I was asked the same question. What I spoke to them about is becoming more familiar with all digital formats as much as possible, taking as many classes as you can.

[3:40] I mentioned earlier taking classes in audio engineering, taking online classes in video and film production, and getting familiarized with library processes. All different kinds of scanning and digitization as well as the preservation of that material that we are digitizing.

[3:57] Whenever I speak to students or aspiring archivists, I always want to say, “Keep studying. Keep studying everything that you can. Build your knowledge base.” The more that we know about the material that we’re digitizing, the more beneficial we’re going to be with managing that material. Whenever we speak with community colleges or the different universities, I always like to say, “Concentrate on the efficiency as well. Quantity, quality, and efficiency.”

[4:28] I think that we become more efficient as digital assent managers as we educate ourselves more along the different processes, which is one of the reasons why I’m looking forward to going to the Smithsonian for that fellowship. It’s primarily to learn how we can manage our material better.

Henrik:  [4:47] There’s still a lot of analog material out there to be digitized.

JA:  [4:52] Absolutely. Now that it’s become the time…the archivists before us that have worked here with the Oklahoma Historical Society for 37 years or for 40 years. That material that they have taken care of is expiring. They’ve all retired now and left it to us, which is just the natural progression/evolution of all the material.

[5:11] We’ll do our part, and then in 30 or 40 years, somebody will come in and do their part. Things keep expiring. The new advances that we see every day, I believe…If we fall behind, we fall behind.

Henrik:  [5:25] I’ve heard once it is digitized, it may be transferred into a different format eventually because to your point, before it gets expired.

JA:  [5:33] Absolutely. One of the other things I was speaking to students this morning is the importance of having a master copy, an access copy, or clones of the master copy for different uses. Online use, copy use, press release use, all different sorts of uses, but securing that master copy just in case anything ever happens to the original format such as fire, flooding, or in our parts, tornadoes. But definitely to have that master copy.

Henrik:  [6:05] Thanks, JA.

JA:  [6:06] Thank you for having me, and I enjoy your podcast quite a bit.

Henrik:  [6:10] Thank you.

Henrik:  [6:11] For more on this and other Digital Asset Management topics, log on to 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.

Another DAM Podcast interview with Jared Bajkowski on Digital Asset Management

Listen to Another DAM Podcast interview with Jared Bajkowski on Digital Asset Management

Here are the questions asked:

  • How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
  • How does a Medical Institute use Digital Asset Management?
  • What are the biggest challenges and successes with Digital Asset Management?
  • What advice would you like to share with DAM Professionals and people aspiring to become DAM Professionals?

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 Jared Bajkowski. Jared, how are you?
Jared Bajkowski: [0:10] Good. How are you?
Henrik: [0:11] Great. Jared, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
Jared: [0:15] I’m the Digital Assets Manager for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. What the Medical Institute is, what we do..we are philanthropic organization. We fund by medical research across the United States. We’re a lot like the NIH.
[0:30] Being the Digital Assets Manager, I am in charge of cataloging, and keeping all of the photos that we use for our publications, all the photos, and graphics, and illustrations that we use on our websites, anything that we use internally for advertisements.
[0:49] Anything that we put out, we want to keep in our management system. What I do is, I gather it, I catalog it, I manage the metadata, I train the other users of the systems in the various departments, whether they be with the Science department or the Science Education department.
[1:10] Personally, I’m in Art Communications, that means that I’m in charge of whatever publications that we put out.
[1:15] The system that we use is a repository for all of the illustrations and all of the photos and everything that we’ve put out. What we want to do is make sure that everything is searchable, everything is findable, everything is safe.
[1:32] That’s an important thing. They’re not scattered around on this hard drive on that hard drive. I run the database and that’s primarily my day to day duties.
Henrik: [1:44] Why does a medical institute use digital asset management?
Jared: [1:46] We’re a large institute. We put out a lot of content and we have a lot of content on our website. We do have publications, we have educational materials that we put out. We have recruitment advertisements for scientists. That ends up being, it’s a lot of content.
[2:03] Now, without a digital assets management system, it’s really hard to keep track on what’s being used where, when it was made, what kind of rights permissions go along with a certain item or a certain record.
[2:18] It can get quickly overwhelming if you’re not certain about where something is or how something should be used or how something was used in the past. What we use it for is pretty much any illustration or photograph or graphic that we use gets put into the database system.
[2:32] It gets tagged with metadata, so we know what it is, who it is, where it was used, why we created it, who created it, who owns the rights. All of the information is important for tracking this kind of thing.
[2:46] I put it into the database before it’s actually published. There we have it, so we can reuse it in the future. It’s something that we can leverage.
[2:54] Someone asks us, “Oh, can I use that illustration? It’s a perfect illustration for an article I’m writing. I’m writing an article on such and such scientist, and I see you have a good portrait of him on your website. Can we use that?”
[3:06] Having a digital access management system allows us to quickly find that item, for one. And two, see who created it, and if we can even can distribute it or who owns the copyrights?
[3:21] This is all important, whenever you’re a large organization, or even a small organization, you have to keep track of this kind of thing.
[3:26] You don’t want to be distributing any materials that you don’t have the rights to. Even if you wanted, even if you could distribute it, you want to have that original high resolution scan or the original version of it to be able to distribute.
[3:42] The essence of this system is basically, it’s almost twofold. One, it’s the repository for everything that you’ve created. And two, it’s a system that you can use to distribute.
Henrik: [3:54] What are the biggest challenges and successes with digital access management?
Jared: [3:59] One of the biggest challenges I’ve found coming in to this job is, whenever you start a digital assets management system, it can be a bit overwhelming trying to track down all the different items that you know should be in there. It’s easy, if you’re starting from the ground up.
[4:16] But hardly, at least it has been my experience, with the other digital assets managers that I’ve talked to. Often, you’re not starting from the ground up.
[4:23] Often, you are coming in midstream where you either have an access management system in place already, or it’s an old system that maybe isn’t being used.
[4:37] Or maybe there is no system at all, and just now your organization is just coming to see the light of why digital access management is important, and then you’re charged with trying to gather up everything that you can.
[4:51] It’s very easy to get overwhelmed by simply the amount of material that’s there, or maybe the amount of material that’s not there and supposed to be there. It’s hard to prioritize, what do I take here, what do I take there? And it feels like it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
[5:08] That often is a challenge, to try to just prioritize what goes in first. And I think that’s how you have to do. You have to sit down and say all right, this is the most important or this department’s the most important, or everything in the past year is the most important.
[5:25] And we’ll get the previous years as we go. You have to sit down and and make a hierarchy of what needs to be in there first, and then start at the beginning. If you take it step by step, it takes a huge project and makes it much easier for you to get a handle on it.
[5:42] And that goes both hand in hand with another major issue that a lot of digital assets managers have, is getting the organization to buy-in to it.
[5:49] You have people, if they’re busy, they’re already working at their jobs and then you come along, trying to get them to use the system, trying to get them to work with you to load their assets into the system and so you can catalog them. So, that can often be a bit of a challenge.
[6:07] Because people frankly, either they’ve had bad experiences with databases before, or they don’t see the value in it. And it takes a lot of effort on your part to show them that it is in their benefit to use these systems, because it is.
[6:22] Whenever it works, it works fantastically. It’s almost like magic, someone comes to you and says “Oh, there was this illustration that I believe we used in an issue four years ago. I don’t know who made it.
[6:38] I don’t know the article that it was in, but I do remember it was an illustration of a red blood cell or what have you.” And if you have a good access management system with good metadata.
[6:51] Look at what the access management system was, or even something as small as perhaps, maybe a year or even a color, you should be able to find it for them.
[7:00] If you can produce something like that on a consistent basis, it really shows people the value of the system that you’ve created. If you can pull out with relative ease the items that people are looking for without having them search too hard for it.
[7:16] That’s the dream of the digital asset management system. I mean, that’s something that makes it worth their while. We’re bringing, it’s almost a cliche to say you’re bringing order to the chaos, but that’s what you’re doing.
[7:28] If your organization has a wealth of materials, but if you have a consistent system and a consistent database, all of those materials should be easily found and easily usable again.
Henrik: [7:40] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals, and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Jared: [7:45] I would say my advice, to be fair, I’m still pretty new to the profession myself. I’ve only been doing this for about two years, and I can say what was the biggest help to me really was getting to know the community of digital assets managers.
[8:03] Going to conferences, trying to link up with people through LinkedIn or joining professional groups, or subscribing to trade journals. That’s a wealth of information, you’re drawing on information of people who have been there, and have been in your position.
[8:19] And they know, they’ve done, they’ve probably heard of or done themselves whatever project that you’re currently working on. And being able to draw on past experience is a huge, huge thing for helping you develop in your career.
[8:35] Being able to ask advice is so big, and being able to have somebody to go to is huge. Another piece of advice that I would give would be really, if you’re trying to prove that the worth of your organization who is investing in a digital assets management system.
[8:53] Really, return on investment, ROI is huge for that.
[8:57] I mean often, I know and you know, people probably listening to this podcast know, you know the value of a digital asset management system. Because that’s what we do, we live it. We know why it works, and we know why it’s a valuable thing to have.
[9:12] Management may not always know that, so if you can go and you can prove to them how a database such as this is going to save money or save time, or make people more effective workers, that kind of speaks management’s language.
[9:29] And that’s how you’re going to get them to buy in to a system such as this. And you do that, I remember, I went to a conference, and it was a presentation from a major company, a major manufacturer.
[9:45] How they got their management to buy-in to the digital assets management system is that they made a presentation, and they had groups of photographs saying here are blueprints. Here’s a picture of the product, here is the commercial that we advertise this product in.
[10:04] When they went through all these different things, of all of the photographs or illustrations or video, or documents, all of the items that go into making a single product, and it was up there all on the screen. They said, “This is what we’re keeping now.”
[10:20] Everything on that screen fell off except for one thing which was the actual photograph of the product itself. What they were saying, and what they were showing is, “This is a multi step process from the idea scribbled on the napkin to the actual item being created.”
[10:39] All of this is getting lost except for photographs of the actual item itself. This is valuable things that we should be keeping. This is legacy data. This is a narrative of how an item goes from idea to product.
[10:52] This is something that can be leveraged for future products. All of it was not being kept. By showing their management by instituting this database for every product that we make, this is the amount of stuff that we can catch, and this is value.
[11:12] This is something that we can use again. This is something that we should be keeping.
[11:16] You want to speak management’s language. You want to show them how you can save money or how you can make your organization better by having a Digital Asset’s Management System.
Henrik: [11:28] Thanks, Jared
Jared: [11:29] You’re welcome. Thank you.
Henrik: [11:31] For more on Digital Asset Management, logon to anotherdamblog.com. Another DAM Podcast is available on Audioboo and iTunes.
[11:39] If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at
anotherdamblog@gmail.com. Thanks again.