Here are the questions asked:
- How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
- What is a Controlled Vocabulary and why is it important to DAM?
- What advice would you like to give to DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM Professionals?
Henrik de Gyor: [0:00] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset
Management. I am Henrik de Gyor. Today, we’re speaking with David Riecks.
David, how are you?
David Riecks: [0:09] I’m doing great. How are you doing?
Henrik: [0:11] David, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
David: [0:14] ; Well, I got involved early on. I wear many hats in this field. So,
first and foremost I am a photographer, so I create images. I have to find them
myself and manage them myself. As a result of that, I started way back in the
film era, in scanning film and things like that. [0:31] In the early ‘90s found myself
putting images into image database and learning that there were these things
like IPTC, which I had no idea what the acronym meant at that time, and based
upon some of my early work with that and my controlled vocabulary. So I ended
up getting involved in metadata standards work.
Henrik: [0:51] What do you refer to when you mean metadata standards? Can
you clarify that?
David: [0:57] Well, there are a whole number of them. When I’m explaining
it to photographers and designers, and people that are working with image
databases, if they ever use Photoshop, I say, “When you open up that file info
box in Photoshop,” which many of them are aware of, I say, “Do you think that’s
just a single standard?” It’s amazing how many people think it is. [1:20] Actually,
I guess it’s a great kudos to Adobe, because they manage to make it look so
seamless, but there’s actually four or five metadata standards that are being
implemented underneath the covers there. The primary one and the oldest
one for images is something called the International Press Telecommunications
Council or IPTC standard.
[1:41] It started out in the ‘90’s. It was an older binary form. Now it’s been morphed
into this XMP way of storing it. So now it’s called the IPTC Core, and
there’s even a newer version or a compendium or add-on to it, called the IPTC
Extension, and then you’ve got other things. The newest one is called PLUS,
which is the Picture License and Universal System.
[2:06] I’m involved with a number of thee working groups. I got involved with
something called IdeaAlliance early on, working on their DISC, Digital Image
Submission Criteria Working Group, and then got involved with this remapping
of the binary IPTC to IPTC Core, and also served with PLUS as well.
[2:28] I’m kind of right in the thick of metadata standards, and trying to basically
move those forward, so that you’ve got a place to put all the data in
[2:37] From a photographer’s standpoint, that was one thing I always found frustrating
was if there was some kind of information that should go with a file, but
there wasn’t a specific place to put it, then you’ve got to figure out another way
to store that data, either internally or externally. In the metadata standards if you
can get it incorporated so it’s part of the standard, then you don’t have to figure
out a kludgy way to get around it.
Henrik: [3:07] What is controlled vocabulary, and why is it important to DAM?
David: [3:10] Controlled vocabulary is a defined term it has to do with Digital
Asset Management. I also manage a website called Controlled Vocabulary. It’s
ControlledVocabulary.com, and there is lots of information about controlled
vocabularies examples, how to implement it, especially in an image database.
[3:30] From my standpoint, controlled vocabulary is all about making images discoverable.
What you want to do is make your database easier to search. There’s
many ways to describe concepts, and drawing all these terms together under
a single word or phrase makes it easier to search that. What that usually means
is you’ve also got to find other synonyms or other words that kind of mean the
same thing, and tie those to them.
[3:55] I work with a lot of photographers and one of the things that you could
easily ask them is ask them to find a specific image in their database. They can
do it in seconds. If you ask them, “Could you hand that database off to somebody
else and have them find it?” It would probably not happen, because they
have specific words that they have in mind.
[4:16] They see a certain kind of subject, and they may have very specific terms
that they use to describe those things. Other people may or may not be able
to use those same terms, or they may use a very, very specific term, but then
not use broader terms. For instance, they might use something like the word
‘dog.’ They might put ‘dog’ in as a keyword, but they might not put ‘pet’ or
[4:45] Some people may be looking more generically. They may be looking for
an image of a dog or a cat outside, and don’t really care so much if it is a dog
or cat. They might search on ‘pet outside’ or ‘pet lawn,’ something like that, and
that image will never be found.
[5:04] If you’re putting your images out there, hoping that people will use them,
the first thing they have to do is be able to find them.
Henrik: [5:10] That was an example?
David: [5:11] Yeah.
Henrik: [5:12] If you want to try and sell them, that’s even more important.
David: [5:15] That’s one of the things that most people found … There’s a portal
called Alamy. One of the things early on with that was photographers would
complain, “Hey. Nobody’s buying my images,” and people would ask them,
“How many keywords do you have for it?” “I have three or four.” [5:32] Some
of the same people would go back and rework it, and get it up to where there
were 12 or 15 keywords per image, and then, all of a sudden, they started selling
because people were finding them.
Henrik: [5:45] What advice would you like to give to DAM professionals or
people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
David: [5:50] What I do for managing my own images, and what you do, or what
other people may do, where they’re managing very large entities are probably
a little bit different. But, the things I have learned, that I think are important are,
one, standards are important, if we didn’t already make that clear. [6:09] In addition
to standards, there is also the concept called interoperability. This can come
back to bite you if you’re not careful, because you may be doing something you
think is based on standards and doing it in a standard way. All of a sudden, you
move those images over to a different asset management program, and none of
your descriptions are showing up, or none of your keywords show up, or there
are parts of your data missing.
[6:37] A lot of that has to do with interoperability and testing to make sure that
things work this database reads your IPTC code the same as another one does.
Part of that is on the vendors, but part of that is also up to the DAM professionals,
because you’ve got to check that, test it, before you move stuff over.
[7:00] In addition, another thing that’s really important is preservation. If you’ve
spent the time to embed this information into your images, or your use enterprise
DAM, and write the information back to the image files, and then you
put those out there on social media sites, or share them with other people, it’s
important to know that information is going to still be there when you go back
to look for it.
[7:25] Some of the social media sites, people are probably familiar with
Facebook, but they may not be aware that when you upload an image to
Facebook, it makes a smaller version of it and removes all of your embedded
metadata, so there’s no access, no IPTC, no plus, no anything. If somebody
else downloads that image from Facebook, unless they made a note, where it
came from, they’re going to have no idea where it came from. That can lead
Henrik: [7:55] It sounds like it.
David: [7:57] Yeah, and I’m a big advocate for doing your homework. I prefer
to do something once and be done with it, rather than to keep going back and
fixing it all the time, That just seems rather inefficient. The best way to do that, if
you’re probably a DAM professional, is to talk to the people that are using your
image database and find out how they’re using it, and figure out if there is a way
that you can teach them how to use it to make their lives easier. [8:28] It’s amazing.
With most databases, I find people, 9 times out of 10, will do a single word
search, just using the quick search. Many of them aren’t even aware that there
is an advanced search, or an advanced find. Once they learn that, I’m like, all of
a sudden making go from pages and pages of images that are not necessarily
pertinent to their search, and just weed them out and get it down to a very
small number that they can look through very quickly.
Henrik: [8:55] Thank you David.
David: [8:56] Thank you as well.
Henrik: [8:57] For more on Digital Asset Management, log onto
AnotherDAMblog.com. Thanks again.