Steven J Miller discusses Digital Asset Management
Here are the questions asked:
- How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
- You wrote a How to Manual about metadata. 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?
Henrik de Gyor: [0:01] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset Management. I am Henrik de Gyor. Today I am speaking with Steven Miller.
Steven, how are you?
Steven Miller: [0:09] I am fine.
Henrik: [0:10] Steven, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
Steven: [0:13] I have worked with digital assets for cultural heritage organizations,
such as libraries, museums, archives and historical societies, that type of
thing. I used to work in a university library, and when I did that, I served as a
metadata consultant for them. [0:28] I assisted with metadata design for digital
collections, mostly digitized items such as images and text from our archival collections.
I also co-chaired a metadata working group for a Wisconsin statewide
cultural heritage digital asset repository.
[0:45] What I do now is, I teach full-time at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee,
School of Information Studies. As part of that, I teach a graduate course on
metadata and also an online continuing education workshop on metadata for
digital collections, for people working in the field.
Henrik: [0:59] You wrote a how-to manual about metadata. Tell us more
Steven: [1:04] I have been teaching my graduate level metadata course for
many years at the school, and I really never found an adequate textbook that
really addressed the hands on how-to-do-it aspects of designing a metadata
scheme and creating metadata for digital assets or objects. [1:22] As I worked
through the course, I ended up creating my own material that was more or less
equivalent to my own textbook, but I had it in various Word documents, examples,
illustrations and exercises. What prompted me to write the book was
that I received a lot of positive feedback from working professionals in the field
who took my online metadata workshop. They said how helpful it was to them
[1:49] That led me to approach a publisher about actually publishing my own
book. They liked my proposal and agreed that it would be a good thing.
“Metadata For Digital Collections A How-To-Do-It Manual” fills a gap in addressing
that hands-on how-to-do-it aspect. It includes principles and various
other topics about metadata, but also that hands-on aspect. It is oriented towards
cultural heritage digital assets.
Henrik: [2:18] What are the biggest challenges and successes with Digital Asset
Steven: [2:22] I think there are a lot of challenges. The ones, of course, I am
most familiar with relate to metadata and control vocabularies. I think that they
are extremely critical to provide intellectual access to any organization’s digital
assets. It is a challenge to design a good metadata scheme from the beginning
that is going to serve their user needs for whatever organization it is. [2:44]
Good metadata is essential to helping people find what they need or what they
want to do their jobs and to discover resources they might not otherwise have
thought about. After designing a good scheme or element set and specifications
for that, the other challenge is to create good quality metadata to produce
that scheme, that Digital Asset Management System.
[3:07] I think it is a challenge for a lot of people who do metadata to really understand
how important it is or how critical it is for findability and usability of
digital assets for an organization. That is a challenge to get people to understand
that. Another challenge is, I think that the design of a metadata scheme,
and when I say a metadata scheme I mean the selection of the elements, the
[3:33] Is an element required or optional? Various database specifications, and
so forth. The design of the scheme and the design of the backend database
and the front end user interface should all go hand in hand with each other. I
think they are really all interdependent and the same people should be involved
in doing that.
[3:53] I really think it helps to develop a set of functional requirements from the
beginning and have several key people in the organization involved in that.
People who know what kinds of digital assets the organization has and how they
need to be used.
Henrik: [4:10] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and
people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Steven: [4:15] I think it is good to learn what you can about metadata or digital
assets and digital collections, whether through books or articles and so forth. It
is a very helpful thing to understand database design and data modeling, since
a Digital Asset Management System is a database. [4:32] It is good to understand
what metadata is. It is really just another form of data in a database, but it
is about the digital assets. It describes them and provides access points for finding
them. It helps people to gather various assets based on common characteristics.
Metadata can also help manage and preserve digital assets over time.
[4:53] I think it is really important to understand how critical control vocabularies
are for giving people consistent retrieval of digital assets. I think even in creating
a simple database, like Microsoft Access or even a flat spreadsheet in Excel,
using sorting and filtering functions can help illustrate how the values you put
into each cell are going to affect whether people can retrieve data consistently.
Henrik: [5:20] Great. Thanks, Steven.
Steven: [5:22] Sure.
Henrik: [5:23] For more on this and other Digital Asset Management topics, log
on to AnotherDAMblog.com. Another DAM Podcast is available on iTunes and AudioBoom. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me
at email@example.com. Thanks again.
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