- How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
- In May 2012, the ISO released a new standard regarding a Digital Object Identifier system. Can you tell us more about this new standard you helped develop?
- Now, DAM systems (among many other Enterprise Content Management solutions) often use various kinds of Digital Object Identifiers (DOI) or Unique Identifiers (UID). How is this standard applicable across organizations and vendors currently using DOI or UID for a variety digital media?
- What advice would you like to share with DAM Professionals and people aspiring to become DAM Professionals?
Henrik de Gyor: [0:02] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset
Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Norman Paskin.
Norman, how are you?
Norman Paskin: [0:10] I am fine. Thank you, Henrik. Thank you for the invitation.
Henrik: [0:13] Norman, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
Norman: [0:15] I guess my principal involvement is, I manage something called
the DOI system DOI is “digital object identifier” run through an organization
specifically setup to do that, the International DOI Foundation, which I was
involved in founding and I’m currently managing. [0:33] The reason for that is,
if you’re managing digital assets, the first thing you need to do is to be able to
refer to each asset unambiguously and precisely using a short string. Give it an
identifier. That’s what the system was conceived to do back in 1998. It came
out of the publishing industry, but it was deliberately developed with wide
[0:56] If I drill down a little bit into that involvement, I think there are three sorts
of involvement I have with DAM. The first is using identifiers on digital networks,
what we call resolution. The DOI system actually uses the Handle System. That’s
Handle.net from CNRI , which is the Corporation for National Research Initiatives.
I do work with them, just to be clear, on a consultancy basis.
[1:25] The Handle System was developed by Bob Kahn, who was one of the
co-inventors of TCP/IP to be highly scalable, efficient, extensible, secure and so
forth. It’s ideal for persistent identifiers and managing unique identifiers. That’s
the first area of involvement.
[1:45] The second involvement with DAM is associating descriptions with those
identifiers. For us at management, obviously it’s not sufficient to have an identifier,
you’ve also got to say what that identifier refers to precisely and unambiguously,
particularly if someone else is going to be using it. That takes us into the
world of metadata, particularly for intellectual property assets or what people
[2:15] I’ve been involved with a number of initiatives dealing with metadata for
enabling persistence and interoperability for well over 15 years. The first was
the INDECS project, 1998. That set the scene for a number of later initiatives.
The most recent of those just starting is something called the Linked Content
Coalition, run by the European Publishers Council.
[2:44] What these all have in common is recognizing that in the digital world,
convergence means you can be dealing with many different types of things, different
content from many different communities with different sets of standards.
They may not have previously had to work with each other, but they now need a
Norman: [3:03] Also, what’s come out of that, I think, is recognizing that assets
as intellectual property are much more than digital objects. For example,
Beethoven’s “Fifth Symphony” is more than an MP3 file. It’s an underlying abstraction,
a creation with all sorts of rights that may be different from the specific
digital manifestation. People have investments in all sorts of different data
schemes, so the aim has to be to enable people to reuse what they have. That’s
part of the effort that we’ve been involved in.
[3:35] One of the things that’s come out of that is something called the
Vocabulary Mapping Framework, VMF. A fundamental basis of things like that is
a structured ontology approach, the same principle as behind the semantic web
and link data. What we’re offering with DOI is a tool to give you a set of data
which is both curated and managed to be reliable.
[4:00] Just to wrap, the third way I’m involved is in social infrastructures and
governance. The DOI Foundation operates as a federation of independent
agencies. We have a governance model and a set of policies and procedures. It
works very well. We’re very pleased with progress, although sometimes it seems
like herding cats. We have agencies from a number of sectors US, Europe,
China, Japan so very different views coming forward.
[4:27] Also in the social infrastructure area, I’ve been involved in a number of
standards activities. Most recently, ISO 26324, which is an effort to take the DOI
system and put it into an ISO framework.
[4:40] Technical involvement in identifiers, metadata, and governance that’s my
Henrik: [4:46] In May, 2012, the ISO, or International Standards Organization,
released a new standard regarding a digital object identifier system. Can you
tell us more about this new standard you helped develop?
Norman: [4:58] Yes. I was the convener of the working group that did that, but
the DOI system, which has now been standardized, actually preceded the ISO
working process itself. In fact, the ISO standard 26324 is codifying what already
existed. [5:16] In the early days of the DOI system, 1998, we worked with ISBN,
the International Standard Book Number people. Through them, we came to
the attention of the ISO group involved in that whole topic of bibliographic
identifiers. They invited us to consider taking the DOI system and putting it
into an ISO standard to gain the advantages of international recognition and a
degree of autonomy and independence.
[5:43] The system that’s now being standardized is, in effect, the DOI system
as it was. The DOI system really took off in 2000. ISO got involved in 2004, a
number of years later. It finally passed as a standard in 2010, quite a number
of years after that. It’s actually only been published now, in May, 2012. The
reason for that delay is purely an ISO thing. They wanted to review all of their
generic registration authority contracts. We got rather caught up in that whole
[6:18] Seven and a half years from door to door, but in effect what IS O has done
is taken the DOI system and put it into the ISO framework. There’s been a lot of
advantages to that, by the way, from our point of view. In the working group, we
had a number of suggestions for how to improve the wording, for how to consider
in particular interoperability with other standards, make sure that was fully
recognized in the wording, and avoid some initial misunderstandings, I think,
that were about.
Norman: [6:47] Which was that in some way, DOI was trying to replace existing
systems. In fact, that’s far from the case. Actually, we’ve encouraged the creation
of new registries and new sorts of identifier standards. We’ve also been
involved in new IS O standards like IS TC, which is a standard for textual abstractions,
and ISNI , the international standards and name identifier.
[7:11] It’s been quite a long story, but I think our involvement with IS O has all
been good. What it means for the community is, I don’t think the ISO standardization
makes a big deal of difference to people already using DOI . By the time
the standard was published, we’d already assigned 60 million DOI s. Clearly,
people weren’t waiting for the standard to come along to use it. But that was
actually a help in the standards process, the benefit of practical experience of
implementation of what worked.
[7:41] We were able to say, when we, for example, were talking about the metadata
standard that we wanted to associate, “In our experience this is what’s
practical. This may be a better design over here, but we have to deal with reality
at the moment.” That’s been quite a helpful process.
[8:00] ISO standardization is just one of a number of events that’s taken place
with DOI since we started in 2000. We’re quite pleased that we’re still around
after all this time and we haven’t had to make any U-turns. We seem to be getting
a lot of recognition. The publication of the standards actually generated
quite a bit of interest from people who may not have been aware of it before.
For example, this interview is a sign of that.
Henrik: [8:25] Digital Asset Management systems, among other enterprise content
management solutions, often use various kinds of digital object identifiers,
or DOI s, or unique identifiers, UIDs. How is this standard applicable across organizations
and vendors currently using DOI or UIDs for a variety of digital media?
Norman: [8:47] It’s a good question. I think I need to tease apart a couple of
the terms there. When people talk about digital object identifiers and imagine it
all in lower case, they’re using it generically. When they talk about it with capitalized
DOI , they’re specifically referring to the DOI system, which has got its
own set of rules, policies, and principles. DOI is a trademark, simply because we
wanted to preserve the consistency of the system for that reason. [9:15] If you
want to work with others to manage or you want to pass onto other parties in a
supply chain or you want to simply make available to third parties that you may
not yet know about, you want to simply make them discoverable, then you’ve
probably got to find a way of interoperating and ensuring persistence of your
[9:37] That’s where we come in. We offer a framework which is effectively out of
the box. It’s a shared infrastructure, both technical and social, with the benefits
of economy of scale. You can keep your own identifier system and your own
metadata, but put it into that framework. You can keep your own autonomy of
the community that you’re looking after, but take advantage of a system that’s
becoming increasingly widely known, standardized with standard tools.
[10:09] A couple of good examples. One of the earliest implementations of
DOI was something called CrossRef it’s all one word, CrossRef.org which uses
DOIs to link scholarly publishing articles. That’s a community of now, I think,
approaching 4,000 different publishers, but they have their own rules. The DOI
system, as they use it, is the same as anyone else would use the DOI system,
just the common rules of the road.
Norman: [10:35] Another example is the Entertainment Identifier Registry, EIDR.org. They’re using DOI s in the movie assets, commercial television broadcasting area. Again, they’re using the same system technically, same social infrastructure,
but they also lay on top of that their own social infrastructure for their own
community and their own rules about what they cover.
[11:00] What the DOI system offers, I think, is an ability to not throw away what
you’ve already been using, but to make it more usable with other systems and
to make it persistent. Of course, in detail, we offer some common tools free of
charge, licensed to the Handle System for resolution, tools of the Vocabulary
Mapping Framework, some common technical infrastructure and so forth.
[11:23] But that’s not the most important thing. Anyone can build their own
infrastructure if they want to. I think what we offer really is a community, a very
large community of interest, greater together than people would be working on
Henrik: [11:37] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and
people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Norman: [11:41] I’ve thought about this. I think a number of points, really.
Almost at the top of the list, I would say don’t reinvent the wheel. I don’t just
mean use DOI s. A lot of useful work has already been done. [11:51] When we
designed the DOI system, again, we didn’t reinvent the wheel. We used existing
components. I think what a lot of technical people don’t necessarily realize is
that things like ontologies and classification work in the ‘60s things like library
cataloguing tools, which people may consider to be rather old fashioned actually
solve an awful lot of problems about organization, information, and contextual
ontologies. Things like FRBR, which the libraries came up with some time
ago. That’s one point. Don’t reinvent the wheel.
[12:21] I would say also look beyond your immediate community. Digital convergence
means you can’t afford to think only about your immediate problems if
you’re going to have something that lasts and is extensible. I do realize there
is a tension there, of course. If you’re looking for cost justification, there is a
tendency to look first of all to your own community and secondly to be relatively
[12:44] A related point is, think for the long term. You’ve got to use a technology,
but don’t forget the possibilities for migration to other technologies. Don’t
forget things like thinking at the right level of abstraction, extensibility, and
[12:58] A further point is, we often talk about persistence identifiers as being
around for a while and we often talk about interoperability. I think they’re two
sides of the same coin. Persistence is simply interoperability with the future.
Norman: [13:12] I would say also something that I found running the social organizations
that I’ve been involved in for 15 years. It’s very easy to get involved
in arguments about definitions. That’s pointless. Don’t argue about definitions.
[13:25] What you do need to do is try to be explicit. Clarify what you mean, and
understand what someone else means. They may have a legitimate reason for
thinking differently than you. Common terms, I think, like identifier, like stakeholders,
like community. When people use them, they often have a vested interest
or a shading towards their particular understanding of what that term means.
Try to understand where they’re coming from.
[13:55] The final thing, which is not my motto but was attributed to Einstein.
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. Don’t assume
that the obvious solution is always the right one.
Henrik: [14:07] Great points. Well, thanks, Norman.
Norman: [14:09] Pleasure.
Henrik: [14:11] For more on this and other Digital Asset Management topics, log
on to AnotherDAMblog.com. Another DAM Podcast is available on Audioboom,
iTunes and the
Tech Podcast Network. If you have any comments or questions,
please feel free to email me at AnotherDAMblog@gmail.com. Thanks again.
- Digital Object Identifier (DOI) Now an ISO Standard (iso.org)
- Where can I find metadata standards? (anotherdamblog.com)