Henrik de Gyor: [00:00] This is Another DAM Podcast of Digital Asset Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Keith Bloomfield-DeWeese. Keith, how are you?
Keith Bloomfield-DeWeese: Very well Henrik, how are you?
Henrik: Keith, how are you involved with digital asset management?
Keith: I’m involved with digital asset management a couple of different ways. I don’t think quite like a traditional DAM person. I don’t work in a DAM system, let’s put it that way. I do work with digital assets, of course, photos, content of all sorts, but I am not managing licenses or anything like that. I actually am more at the end of, or along the processing line of digital assets or an asset, where trying to describe what the asset is about, how it should be used, what systems it should be used in and things that are, again, a little more outside of the, I think, the traditional DAM environment or DAM world.
[01:00] I work with content management systems very much. It’s interesting, because I’ve been thinking this through in so many different ways and from so many different angles, because I work in maintaining, developing, maintaining controlled vocabularies, relationships that link terminology between classes and so on and at a certain point, I think, whenever you do this for any number of organizations, you look at it and you say, “Okay, we’ve done all this work, what do we do with it now? How do we monetize it in a certain way and how do we start, perhaps, thinking of it more as a digital asset, with a right-to-use component?” For the most part, the work I do kind of skirts around that, but at the same time, there is this, beyond the right-to-use, there is this management aspect where we’re trying to join different types of assets together.
[02:00] We’re trying to make connections between a photo and text, a sound recording and text, and the management is there, it’s just in a different way, and again, not quite so traditional. I think, going back now for, I was thinking recently, it’s been almost 20 years, that I’ve been working for media companies of various kinds. You increasingly see the lines blurring between certain, the idea of content management and digital asset management and it seems like the more there’s a blurring or there’s just a lot of overlaps. I’m kind of, I guess I’m apologizing a little bit for not being more of a DAM person, or talking about DAM. I hope that’s all right.
Henrik: No apologies necessary.
Keith: I think a lot of this, I think that’s common these days and many people are in that kind of space, work in that kind of space and of course I have to be aware of the different restrictions that might be placed on an asset.
[03:00] One thing that I know I have run afoul of at times is okaying, and this is not anything recently, I’m thinking quite while ago, maybe when I was a novice more in the space, of using an asset, integrating it, associating it with another type of asset, a content item, primarily, when I shouldn’t have. When I didn’t, you know, heed what the attributes and the attribute values were telling me about how something could be used. I’ve become much more savvy in that respect and much more knowledgeable in basically how you have to be aware as you work with a variety of assets and especially in media things change so much that you sometimes just have to allow yourself to fall and that’s kind of my take on working with digital assets.
Henrik: [04:00] How do you maintain the ontology for a national media company?
Keith: Well, I think it’s a daunting task in some ways and sometimes I think I’m one of those fools who stumbled in where the angels fear to tread, so to speak, because it’s certainly no a one person task, of course. There’s so many people involved. There are so many systems involved. Maintaining so much depends on data formats being correct. I think this is where we start getting into more of the kind of semantic side of this or the linked data side of this because when you’re dealing with, say, well I’ve worked for an encyclopedia, I’ve worked for newspapers, you’re really just dealing with such a vast, so many domains of knowledge, that you’re both trying to development vocabularies to describe domains plus the relationships between them in such a way that they make sense to both the machine and increasingly the machine and human beings.
[05:00] Of course, those are a great deal of reliance on various tools. I’ve worked with, I think, everything from Protégé to there are different tools. I don’t want to sound like I’m endorsing anything but, you know SAS Teragrams tool, things like Synaptic and Expert System. You know of course you have to have that kind of support that these sophisticated tools provide and I think maintaining and actually developing them further is the real trick. It’s how do you keep incorporating other vocabularies? How do you harmonize vocabularies and not the unexpected results, because of course we’re trying to do so much of this to have a positive impact on everything from search to putting out new products, driving products, and again, I think it’s just a very, it’s daunting.
[06:00] I would also say too, that one thing has easier over time is the tools have become more sophisticated in the last ten years. I think it’s incredible what we can do know as opposed to when we used to have to maintain values in spreadsheets. That was just, you can only go so far with that. Today though it does, it takes a village to raise an ontology, let’s put it that way. I tend to think too that, where I sit, I do a lot of work developing, and again, the relationships that make terms, link terms, and those relationships, of course, now we can get them from different standards. We’re very fortunate on that respect. We’re very fortunate.
[07:00] When I say standards I mean that we have OWL or just schema.org and so on to work with, where as, ten years ago, these things, were around of course, but they weren’t, I think, as approachable in some respects, or I certainly found them a little more difficult to wrap my mind around at that time and I think now we have it, so many of these standards built right into these systems that we license and so on, that it makes it easier. But, to maintain an ontology for a national media company, it’s always trying to find, I think, that right balance between what machines can do and then where the human beings have to step in and clarify and disambiguate and so on. Again for news organizations, for an encyclopedia, for, well just any of these larger media companies, you’re dealing with, not just financial data or data about medicine.
[08:00] It’s not farm. Dealing with all the means of knowledge from health to sports to politics to entertainment and actually, I was thinking, I’ve worked on vocabularies that have a number of, you know like very simple ones, 20,000 terms, up to 160,000 terms and when you start thinking of all the relationships that link those terms together you suddenly feel like a very small person and you have to, I always say I always have to keep in mind that I can only do so much and we can only take things so far with this technology and we’re still trying to improve the technology too.
[09:00] One of the questions, later, that you asked was about what advice do you give to people and I’ll go back to that later some more, but one thing I’m thinking of here is that when you do maintain an ontology for a large media company you really need to be prepared to experiment and not be afraid to try different approaches and to realize that the technology, the guidelines, are there but there’s always that fine tuning that has to be done because you can also find yourself in a situation where you’re dealing with all this great technology but you’re still using legacy systems that aren’t quite up to snuff or compatible. I think trying to find that right balance is part of the maintenance of the ontology.
Henrik: Keith, what are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with digital asset management and ontology?
Keith: [10:00] Well they say the challenges can range from just trying to get the buy in to follow a different direction, to getting the adaptation of the technologies, I mean that by, or adoption, the adoption of the technologies by a variety of people that interact with them and I’m thinking very much of database developers, developers of all sort, database administrators, developers, UX people, just a whole gamut, individuals who would be involved in managing the assets, developing the ontology to help manage them and I think there you do have to work a lot of times on people skills and trying to help people see the advantage of changing, going from working in relational databases to this entirely different approach, incorporating RDF, resource description framework and into the whole management process.
[11:00] It’s not always easy to make that leap and I think probably one of the challenges, biggest challenges, is managing expectations, because you will have executives, you will have stake holders just, again, any number of people who, well they do not have the interactions with the systems, with these technologies but they have heard the great benefits that can be achieved. Sometimes you have to do a lot of worker challenges and just making sure people understand that you’re not going to come right out of the gate charging at 80 miles an hour. You’ve got to work incrementally, strategically. Now a success is, sometimes my successes can be very small. When I see an inference made, engine based off of some data, when I see an implementation.
[12:00] Some years ago I was working on a search project and the final result or search results that then could expand into graphs, visual graphs, and that was very exciting. That was one of those successes of the kind where it was not only something very helpful but it that aesthetic quality too that I think, so often much of what we do, it’s not just science, it’s a little bit of art and to me, success comes in, really realizing that I’m allowed to work on some of the world’s largest word games, in a way, and be part of that, but I would really say it’s challenging to get to those little successes or even the bigger ones.There’s so many hurdles and you can’t just expect that you’re going to be successful the first time.
[13:00] You got to have stick-to-it-iveness I’d say, really keep with it and again, keep bringing people on board and everyone’s at a a different place on the learning curve with all of this technology which has it’s own problems when you’re trying to do something different and you’re working in an experimental area. I even thinking, I haven’t quite made the transition to saying goodbye to the concept of semantic web or semantic technology and saying hello linked data. I’m more at the point of actually combining the two terms but I really would say like, just even getting to that understanding of how linked data works, how linked data can apply to, just that interoperability, those are successes and you have to be open to them and see them where they are and not expect fireworks at the end of the day.
Henrik: Keith, what advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Keith: [14:00] Well I think earlier I made the statement about being involved in way to just being open and being and experimenter, seeing yourself as a pioneer, but with DAM itself, like you’re really going to talk about the traditional, the digital asset management approach of course, it’s learn all you can about what’s available for managing rights issues and right-to-use issues and just anything to do with versioning and so on, that’s already available in data sets publicly. I think it takes a special kind of person. I don’t know if there’s a certain profession. A couple of years ago a friend published a book called The Accidental Taxonomist and I use that term now all the time, the accidental this, or the accidental that, but the accidental digital asset manager too because I think, especially in publishing, one way or the other you’re going to be involved in some kind of decision involving an asset and that decision can be a difficult one to make.
[15:00] It can be an easy one to make. So often I think, do you have the right set of tools, if you’re open to learning as much as you can. Just even simple things, like just get the basic syntax of RDF or some sparkle statements. You can really achieve a lot, I think. You can go into this feeling somewhat confident and you’re armed well. I would say just arm yourself, gird yourself as much as possible to always be working in an environment of change. It doesn’t mean you have to know everything. You don’t have to be expert in all these technologies. I think that’s a very special person but familiarity, many different data sets, many different technology, and by familiarity I mean just kind of a cursory familiarity.
[16:00] Then definitely find a niche, look for your niche, where you enjoy, what you enjoy doing. I’m very keen on just the linguistic aspects of what I do, then the automation that can be part of this. I really didn’t touch on that, the things like entity extraction and auto tagging, things like that, that can be applied in digital asset management, but that’s my niche and that’s where I feel comfortable. Certainly with all the assets that are being created there’s room for everyone I think, kind of wrap that up in a positive note. Just be open and positive.
Henrik: Great, well thanks Keith.
Keith: You’re welcome. Thank you Henrik.
Henrik: [17:00] For more on this visit anotherdamblog.com. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. For this and 180 other podcast episodes, visit anotherdampodcast.com. Thanks again.