Tobias Blanke discusses Digital Asset Management
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 blog 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.
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.
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.
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