Here are the questions asked:
- How are you involved with Digital Asset Management (DAM)?
- You recently wrote a book called The Accidental Taxonomist. What inspired you to write this book?
- What advice would you give to DAM Professionals or people aspiring to be a DAM Professional?
Henrik de Gyor: This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset
Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Heather Hedden.
Heather, how are you?
Heather Hedden: [0:09] Fine, thanks. Thanks for inviting me.
Henrik: [0:12] Heather, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
Heather: [0:15] Actually I’m a taxonomist. That’s closely related. I create taxonomies
which are usually structured sets of terms used for metadata to tag or
classify content item. The content can be digital assets or text documents. I’m
involved in more than just Digital Asset Management as I see it. [0:36] I originally
got into the field from a background of indexing with a company that has now
become Cengage Learning, indexes, reference materials for libraries, magazine
and newspaper articles, pamphlets, maps, charts, and images too. I’ve worked
as a taxonomist in both full-time positions and as a consultant or contractor. I’m
in between jobs at the moment.
[1:03] My most recent job was as the taxonomy manager in a wind energy company
based in Boston. There I developed a better nested folder for the hierarchical
classification of content to better support browsing. I also developed
taxonomies with numerous synonyms for auto classification of content to better
[1:24] A third taxonomy project included metadata for manually tagging content
was also in the plans. Although many documents there were text files, they also
had CAD drawings, topographical maps, PowerPoint presentations, and image
files such as many photos of wind farm locations and wind turbines.
[1:46] The taxonomy covered lots of terms dealing with all these different documents,
technical, legal, financial, covering all areas of the business. I’ve also
been involved in developing policies or guidelines for tagging or classifying
content with a taxonomy which is an important component of taxonomy work.
Henrik: [2:07] Heather, you recently wrote a book called “The Accidental
Taxonomist.” What inspired you to write this book?
Heather: [2:12] I’m glad you asked. I also teach a continuing education workshop.
It’s a five week workshop through Simmons College Graduate School
of Library and Information Science. It’s an introduction to taxonomy. I’ve been
doing that for a couple of years. [2:27] I got an inquiry if I would teach a second,
more advanced class. I just got to thinking about how much work that would be
because it’s ongoing every other month or something. Since I had accumulated
some other written materials and giving presentations, I thought maybe it would
better to put this all into a book that would serve both those at an introductory
level and at a more advanced level if you had a lot of material together.
[2:54] As a backup I had also been doing kind of freelance side work back to the
book indexing, writing indexes to nonfiction books. I’ve been reading a lot of
different nonfiction books, some of them professional books. I thought, “Well,
maybe I could write a book too.”
[3:11] I consider my background pretty comprehensive in both that I created
taxonomies used by human manual indexers, taggers, and those for auto classifications.
I’ve also created taxonomies for more commercial, published content
and those that are for internal enterprise content.
[3:34] With that kind of broad background I felt pretty qualified to write a book
on this. Some people have written book that are more narrow just for enterprise
taxonomy. When I looked around, there really wasn’t that much out there just on
[3:52] There’s another book that’s more on knowledge management or some
that are focused on controlled vocabularies more for wide learning focus areas.
It was a need that needed filling.
Henrik: [4:05] Heather, is there a website where you can get more information
Heather: [4:09] Oh yes. It’s www.accidentaltaxonomist.com which has a lot of
information about the book, the table of contents, the index, the introduction,
forward. It also has all the websites mentioned throughout the book, the URLs,
and they are hyperlinked. You can actually get a lot of information that I have in
my book without reading it, although I hope you do. Readers can go do that.
Henrik: [4:41] What advice would you give to DAM professionals or people aspiring
to be a DAM professional?
Heather: [4:47] Considering I’m a little bit on the sidelines of the DAM profession
myself being a taxonomist, I do see similarities there and I recommend this
for people going into taxonomy as well or other fields such as content management.
[5:01] It involves having more of a broader skill set and experience,
so combining a DAM background with, perhaps, taxonomy management or
content management experience or also indexing background that I have had
or experience with maybe search technologies or more of a technology background
and perhaps a subject area expertise, so something to some specialty
area to distinguish one’s self.
[5:38] Also, I think people should be open to any industry. You might think of
maybe traditional media based industries, but all kinds of companies, all kinds
of industries now have a growing core list of different types of assets. I never
thought I’d end up in the wind energy industry. Keep your eyes open to anything
and network a lot.
Henrik: [6:04] Great idea. Thanks, Heather.
Heather: [6:07] OK , you’re welcome. It was nice to talk to you.
Henrik: [6:10] No problem. For more on Digital Asset Management, log onto
AnotherDAMblog.com. Thanks again.