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.

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 NYC DAM Meetup Organizers on Digital Asset Management

Listen to Another DAM Podcast interview with NYC DAM Meetup Organizers 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 Chad Beer and Michael Hollitscher about NYC DAM, the New York Digital Asset Managers Meetup group. The world’s largest Meetup group about Digital Asset Management.

[0:18] Chad, you’re the founder of this Meetup. Tell us how it all started.

Chad Beer:  [0:23] I was working as a DAM manager in 2009. I was looking to move onto the next challenge, the next job. I needed to deepen my education about DAM. I needed to network and to get to know more people in DAM. I had gone to conferences and wasn’t finding the connections I wanted to find.

[0:47] I wasn’t connecting with people who were talking real nuts and bolts about their jobs and how they do it. I got connected to Meetup through a friend in an unrelated industry. I had gone to some other types of software Meetups and was amazed that there were no DAM Meetups.

[1:04] Out of frustration and out of wanting to get people to tell me about DAM, I thought, “I’m going to start a Meetup.” I saw Mike speak at a Henry Stewart conference. I liked his presentation. I liked how his thinking worked.

[1:18] I approached him after his talk and asked if I set up a Meetup about DAM, would he think that it’d be something that he would want to be involved in. He was very positive about the idea.

[1:27] That was the first piece of encouragement that I received that was outside of my own head. I just went online and started up the group.

[1:34] The first meeting we had was me, Mike, one other member, my boss and my boss’ boss. It was a tiny group. Mainly my bosses came because they wanted to see what the hell I was doing, using up a conference room in the evening, and also to wish me well.

[1:50] We started with a first meeting of five members. We talked about what the Meetup should be about. It was a very broad, kickoff Meetup.

[2:01] I love that Mike was there from the start, from before day one, really. Then, we just started winging it and setting up topics that we would find interesting. We were doing the presentations ourselves at first. It didn’t take long.

[2:15] As soon as we found somebody with some expertise and who was willing to talk, we started getting people who had shown up at the group to talk at the next one, and the next one, and the next one.

[2:23] It grew from there.

Henrik: Mike?

Michael Hollitscher:  [2:26] It’s funny because thinking about it, there was space for us to fit into in the beginning. We joked that going to Digital Asset Management conferences were the one or two times a year that you didn’t feel totally alone.

[2:43] You could actually network with people, really interface and compare notes with the people who are doing this job, which five years ago was something more of an obscure trade to be involved in.

[2:59] Now I think it’s become something that’s becoming more and more ubiquitous every day in terms of how to manage digital content. We were able to fill a niche that a lot of people didn’t even know was needed.

[3:14] What Chad was talking about, in terms of how we just winged it, it was a Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland “Let’s put on a show” thing. We did it a little guerilla style, hosting it at places of work that we worked at.

[3:29] The people we were involved with, seemed like it was a perfectly fine thing to do. We slowly built up our membership, trying to think of interesting topics.

[3:39] In the end, the thing that’s driven us forward and gotten us to the point of our relative popularity now is that we really wanted to talk about the things that are necessary, that were really critical to us in our daily work days.

[3:58] We wanted to make sure that people who were showing up were fully engaged and really understood the key issues that we were dealing with at the time. It’s pretty amazing to think that it’s gone on for five years at this point, that so much has changed in the landscape from a point where DAM was, like I said, at that point, emerging from a backwater to a critical part of doing business every day.

Chad:  [4:23] I had no global perspective when I started it, at all. I agree with Mike that we totally filled a niche that was not only ready to be filled, but there was an audience for it. We didn’t know this.

[4:35] I knew I was interested. I knew Mike was interested. I knew we had a common sensibility about metadata management. [laughs] So I knew we were aligned on a strategic level. That was it.

[4:46] We were very lucky, in a way. It was our timing and also our location. It’s possible for us to do this Meetup and have it as robust and ongoing as it is, because we’re in New York [City]. There’s a critical mass of not only people but professions that need DAM, so there’s a critical mass of DAM people in a small geographical area.

[5:09] We opened it up at what happened to be the right time in the practice’s maturity. If we had done it five years earlier, there wouldn’t have been enough people to talk about it or the issues wouldn’t have been codified enough to bring in an audience.

[5:25] I don’t think we would have known what the universal questions and problems were. There was a lot of luck and happenstance, timing and logistics, location.

Michael:  [5:33] Yeah and really sticking with it. It came from the fact that Chad and I both wanted some answers, or at least to have a discussion amongst our peers to figure out “How are you doing it? How are you actually getting this work done?” or “What are the hacks you have to do, not only from a technological standpoint but from a human standpoint of getting this kind of work done?”

[6:01] I think that’s the big thing. The emergent thought that has come out of the Meetups ‑‑ and Henrik, I know you’re a big proponent of this, too ‑‑ we always focus on the technology, but the longer you do this, the technology is the least interesting part of it after a while.

[6:18] It’s really, “How do you engage the human beings who have to use this technology?”

[6:24] One of the real things that we’ve brought to the table in general DAM discussion in the world is that you really have to talk about the people. You have to talk about how you enable people. The uniqueness of your organization has to really work with your end‑users and your stakeholders.

Chad:  [6:48] We did want to engage on those levels. In my mind at the time, the conferences weren’t very strong on those fronts.

[6:55] They’ve gotten a lot better. They’ve come down from preaching lofty best practices that aren’t really applicable to the day‑to‑day, and come down from vendor demos and things like that to more emphasis on use cases and more nitty‑gritty news you can use.

[7:10] That was not available much when we started this out, so we needed to talk to Mike’s point, not just about the human level of the work that we do and the hacks people do, but also nuts and bolts about how you get from point A to point B, how other professionals have done that.

[7:28] Also, not only did we want to facilitate presentations, we wanted to facilitate community and some interactions, some easy networking. The word “community” is really overused, but that’s what we were going for.

[7:43] Conferences only go so far with that, because they come at a pretty hefty cost. It costs a lot to go to a conference. We knew there were a bunch of people from small companies or independent contractors and certainly students or recent grads who were never going to go to conferences, that we’d never meet and interact with.

[8:03] The Meetup was a way to bring all those people together to missed people who also go to conferences. We felt that we were able to open doors up to a whole area of the DAM industry that couldn’t really get into the conferences, because they didn’t have the funding.

[8:18] That’s been a really valuable piece of it. Also, Mike brings up a really good point. This sticking with it was really critical. We’ve been doing it for five years.

[8:29] Mike and I have both been through job changes, and at some point or multiple points, we both hit a wall, where the demands of job or home life have been a lot to take on, and didn’t have the bandwidth to keep coming up with Meetup ideas.

[8:44] We were really glad that we had each other to bounce ideas off of and hand the baton back and forth to.

[8:49] This is where you come in, Henrik. When you joined us two years ago now, you added not only more bandwidth, but a new perspective, new contacts, a new perspective on the industry that not only helped us to keep going but helped enrich the content that we bring to the presentations every month.

[9:12] Can I ask you a question? Could you tell us about what it was like for you when you joined the Meetup, or how you decided you wanted to join the Meetup?

Henrik:  [9:19] I also had a job transition. I had a lot of time to spend in New York, thankfully. I’m a Virginia resident, so I commute to New York [City]…

[9:30] [laughter]

Henrik:  [9:32] …on a regular basis. I was thrilled to be engaged with a very thriving, literally, a community of Digital Asset Management professionals like yourselves and all the members. I only wanted to see that grow.

[9:45] As a content producer for my blog and podcasts, I know that content is king and if you produce good content, especially in person, people will come, especially if there’s networking involved before and after. We do that with the Meetups too.

[9:59] I wanted to hone that, focus on things that we hadn’t focused on and look at all the different topics that are out there. There’s plenty and there’s only more to come.

[10:09] You started this on July 20th, 2009, and we’re coming up to a milestone. We’ll be announcing our fifth anniversary at a very special place.

[10:19] I was really excited to come up with topics as often as I could, and the speakers whenever I could with your help, to get the community engaged and different parts of the community as far as who’s using it and how they’re using it, not just the technology.

[10:35] Obviously, the people, that comes first, then also the processes and information that are involved to one degree or another.

Chad:  [10:45] Probably the best thing I ever did after starting the Meetup was not trying to do it alone. I was never under the illusion that I could do it alone, or that that would be a good idea. This whole thing has been a real lesson to me in the value of collaboration. The more heads at the helm, the better.

[11:04] It helps, of course, that we are all like‑minded to a great degree. We all knew that about each other before we got involved. The Meetup is as strong as it is and still going because of everybody being involved ‑‑ not just us, all the members, too ‑‑ who also feed us some great ideas.

[11:21] Looking ahead, I would love it if there was more community involvement in at least getting ideas flowing and identifying people who could speak. I would love it to be a real soapbox for a lot of people in the DAM community.

Henrik:  [11:34] Getting more people engaged, whether it’s the organizers of the events, such as us, or the people who are hosting these events, because we’re always looking for great locations that can host 50 plus people. That’s typically how many we have on a regular basis.

[11:49] At the time of this recording, we have 680 members plus. We’ve doubled it from over a year ago, which is pretty amazing.

Chad:  [11:57] Speaking of locations, that brings up another economic issue. It’s the cost of locations. We’ve been challenged to find good locations because we have managed to keep our Meetup group vendor‑neutral.

[12:12] When we’ve been fortunate enough to get some sponsorship, mainly to fund video and the post video recording of some of the Meetups, the sponsors have been very hands‑off, just asking that we promote them with logos and credit, etc.

[12:27] Keeping some financial independence from any outside influence has been a limiting factor in that we have no budget for a lot of places that we could otherwise afford, but it’s also maintained a degree of integrity for our Meetup, and allowed us to steer our own ship.

[12:43] We can have whatever speakers we want, and we don’t have to worry about any conflict‑of‑interest from an economic perspective. I think that’s been huge.

Henrik:  [12:52] I agree.

Chad:  [12:53] I can’t believe it’s already five years.

Michael:  [12:55] We were so young once.

Henrik:  [12:58] I agree. [laughs]

Chad:  [13:01] We’ve all gone through job changes since getting involved in the Meetup. It’s funny. The Meetup evolves. We’re evolving as DAM professionals, and the industry’s evolving out from under and all around us at the same time.

Michael:  [13:12] It seemed like it was easier to do the first two years. I was in grad school. I was working a full time job, and also we were doing generally a Meetup a month at that point. I look back now, and I don’t know how I managed that.

[13:27] [laughter]

Chad:  [13:30] Same here.

Michael:  [13:31] It’s a greater challenge now. I’m challenged more in my work now. There’s more topics that we could cover. There’s probably more things to think about, but it’s not just about DAM anymore. It is about the whole content lifecycle. That’s maybe the more exciting stuff.

[13:54] Maybe where topics will evolve is more towards where DAM is an aspect of what we’re talking about. It’s really about the creative process. It’s about the process on the Web, about content determination, content access and analytics, all these sort of things where it’s like DAM is sitting at the bottom and feeding out.

[14:15] It’s really a question of how it ties into a lot of much larger issues. That’s what I’m interested in talking about. It’s just a question of how we put it all together.

Henrik:  [14:26] There’s going to be tons of that, as far as conversations and Meetups in the near future about that.

Michael:  [14:31] That’s what we have to figure out. [laughs] For those of you listening in, that’s something that us three have to sit down and figure out. What are we going to talk about?

[14:42] As Chad mentioned, that also comes from our user group too and some of the great people that we have who are de facto advisors at this point, or thought leaders who help influence our thinking, as well.

Chad:  [14:58] Not only has our work‑life situations become more complex, but the industry has gotten more complex. Our questions are more complex. When we started out, our questions about DAM were very simple.

[15:10] Now we’re thinking on a more complex level, fed by the work challenges that we’ve seen, but also the Meetups that we’ve seen other people present.

[15:23] I feel like the game’s gotten more complex. Reiterating Mike’s point, it’s no longer enough to just have one simple talk about metadata schemes, as one person did. That will be valuable, but man, there are so many more pressing issues now about file acceleration and system integrations. It’s a much more complicated world now. That makes the Meetups a little harder to plan, because you want to meet that raised bar.

Henrik:  [15:51] We raise the bar ourselves within the group by being one of the groups that video record all our panel discussions. We got sponsorship for that as we mentioned earlier, and they’re available on YouTube for free. Just search on YouTube for NYC DAM, and you’ll find them.

[16:07] NYC DAM is based in Manhattan. We meet in Manhattan, specifically. You can find the Meetup on http://meetup.com/NYCdigitalassetmanagers. We invite you to join if you have interest in Digital Asset Management.

Chad:  [16:22] Come and give us ideas. Share ideas, and share questions with us, because that’s where the next presentations come from.

Michael:  [16:28] Also, thanks for all your support. Because if nobody shows up, we can’t do it.

Henrik:  [16:33] It’s all about the numbers.

Chad:  [16:34] Exactly. That’s the community. It’s not us. We just provide a soapbox, but if nobody’s there to listen to whoever’s on it, then there’s no point.

Henrik:  [16:42] Thanks, guys.

Michael:  [16:43] Thank you.

Chad:  [16:44] Thank you.

Henrik:  [16:44] 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.