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Another DAM Podcast interview with Keith Bloomfield-DeWeese on Digital Asset Management and Ontology

Transcript:

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 anotherdamblog@gmail.com. For this and 180 other podcast episodes, visit anotherdampodcast.com. Thanks again.


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Another DAM Podcast interview with Patty Bolgiano, John Cronin and Becky Clark on Digital Asset Management

Transcript:

Henrik de Gyor:  [0:01] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today, I’m speaking with Patty Bolgiano, John Cronin, and Becky Clark. How are you?

Patty Bolgiano:  [0:12] We’re all doing fine, thank you.

Henrik:  [0:13] How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?

Patty:  [0:16] I am the person who’s responsible for uploading our data files into a data collection and management system. I do naming conventions. I make sure that the files have fonts, have images, decide which method is going to be the quickest way to upload those.

[0:36] Primarily, we are using Quark and InDesign as our software programs here. I’m making sure that they’re current versions and alarming staff if there’s a problem.

[0:46] I’m also responsible for revising and updating our paper book editions of our titles with reprints, there’s an actual change in the book itself, text maybe changed, images maybe changed. It’s my responsibility to make sure that the application file and the PDF that eventually goes to make the eBook are exactly the same, and make sure that there are no problems when they are eventually turned into eBooks.

[1:17] I’m also working with the other members of the staff to get images and PDFs that they need for review or for overseas publications, which means the files have to be there. I either transfer them via FTP to that other person’s FTP site or will even burn them on discs or external hard drive so that they have material.

Henrik:  [1:40] Patty, how does the oldest, continuous running university press in the United States use Digital Asset Management?

Patty:  [1:47] We use it in a variety of ways. First and foremost, it is a repository of our intellectual property. A place where the files reside so that at anytime if we wish to reprint, restock or pull information from these files, we can do so in an efficient and easy manner. We also use the archive as a place where it can be safely stored.

[2:10] The sheer amount of information that Hopkins Press has is extraordinary. Now, we are getting it, it is at our actual fingertips instead of looking through very old books or very old files. That information that we have at our fingertips can tell us how we thought previously, via social sciences and things of that nature to current thoughts about the fossils of birds.

[2:40] We are aggregating all these information, keeping it a level where anybody within the Hopkins Press can access it for interior needs, or to publish or promote a book outside of the press. It’s also part of our heritage, this whole Data Asset Management philosophy. Our heritage is that we are constantly thinking and writing, and exploring about various topics.

[3:08] We are pulling both from the past and the present to show potential audiences how we used to think, how we’re thinking now, what new information has come aboard so that we can show a progression of understanding about topics.

[3:25] This also helps us talk with authors who say, “I have all these vast information, how can I get it into a book and get the most bang for the book?” By having an asset management system in place, we can then make multiple books, if necessary.

[3:42] We can have a Volume I, a Volume II, a Volume III, or we can do some books as a traditional print, some books as strictly as eBooks or a PDF format, so that the reader can have a variety of options of accessing this information.

[4:05] I was the first person originally hired to start managing the information that we had gathered and to coordinate it. It’s been seven years.

[4:13] It’s amazing to me, how people will ask for something that is 30 and 40 years old, and they want that. That to me is astounding because I’m here in the press, and I’m thinking, “What does something 30 or 40 years ago have, that that person wants it?” It could be something that they’re going to use for their thesis.

[4:36] By having this Digital Asset Management System in place, we can better help them. It’s been seven years, it’s worked really incredibly well. We have been able to work far more easily, and have various departments being able to access this information without having to jump through various loops, which is always a good thing.

[5:02] Approximately 2,000 books right now with our system, which is codeMantra. Today, we’re just putting up more books, so it’s constantly growing. It’s also constantly evolving because we also can take from the print books and make our eBooks.

[5:20] We’re getting more into eBooks with MP3s in them, so that the reader can actually be right there and see something that takes the book to another level, and takes the topic to another level.

John Cronin:  [5:35] I came here about eight years ago, and that was really one of the first tasks that we had to do, was to get our archive pulled together, find an outside vendor who can handle the vast amounts of information. We were able to do that, and Patty was really the first hire, and this is really still the focus of her job. It’s very detail‑oriented, very critical to the press.

[6:00] Certainly, we do eBooks for every single title that we have so that all of those things are archived in the conversion process which is also something that is done within my department of design and production. We’re really looking at electronically imprint together, and certainly our copies have been invaluable. We had to set that up before we could really expand from these ways, which are very market‑driven.

Henrik:  [6:24] What are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?

Patty:  [6:28] The biggest challenge is keeping current titles up to date. In the book world, when you do a reprint, there are changes to the text of that book. Again, as I said earlier, it’s my responsibility to make sure that everything matches with the most up to date version which is available.

[6:44] So, shall we decide not only to reprint it, we have the current files. Also, the eBook when it gets updated, has the current files. Then if we decide to then take that book, and make a whole new version of the book, maybe it brings together books about science and evolution, being able to grab all those different kinds to files and put them together in one book.

[7:10] Having the most current file is always the most important thing. The biggest success is that previous to my coming here, there was no archive, and it was because of a variety of reasons. No one, seven years ago, imagined that all these information that they have will become valuable.

[7:27] They knew in one sense that a book is always a valuable thing, but what they didn’t understand is that you have to be able to access that book in a multitude of ways, and being in that, we were able to go ahead and access that information and give it to them.

Becky Clark:  [7:46] We really could not scale our eBook program until we had a Digital Asset Management program in place. We couldn’t find our assets plus get them converted to eBooks, and do it in a way that was efficient. We realized that the only way we will be able to scale our eBook program is by putting together a robust and well managed Digital Asset Management System.

Henrik:  [8:09] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

Patty:  [8:14] First, I would recommend that you understand that you can come from print to Web easy. It is more difficult to go from the Web to print because the technology that each is required is unique for that particular type of product.

[8:28] Other things that I think you ought to know, you should understand the formats such as what is an MP3, a PDF, a JPEG, TIFF, a software that’s associated with photography, film, printing, how those formats can change, and how you can keep them from being corrupted. You need to understand that technology is new and evolving.

[8:54] While you have to adapt to the technologies, business is key and always adapt as quickly as you would like them, because they will have marketing departments and other departments that feed into this overall picture.

[9:07] It can take businesses a little bit longer to actually make the changes, and it’s just the way the businesses are. Other things I would say is look into library sciences, information systems. A couple of colleges are now starting to offer digital preservation classes, online and in person. Always having good people skills, and working with people on a day‑to‑day basis.

[9:35] Understanding that sometimes there are things, there are projects, their initiatives are immediate, and you’re going to have to stop and help them, and work them through the program. When it comes to a problem, and there are going to be problems when you setup your asset management.

[9:50] Sometimes you need to step away for a day, or walk around the building, or just say it out loud to yourself, and you can pick up, maybe the flaw in your logic, or somebody else can say, “Oh, by the way, you forgot about this particular employee.” It’s going to be critical in getting your asset management up to speed.

[10:11] Just remember, it’s a constantly changing field. Everybody makes mistakes. Technologies changes. Formats change. Being very detailed‑oriented is really, really critical.

[10:24] I would recommend that you have a very broad outlook as to all the things that you’re going to play in when you get your archiving and your data management up and running.

John:  [10:37] This is certainly a field that has, I think, a lot of employment potential with people who understand, and can come from a couple of different disciplines. There’s job right there, something that every company needs in some way, there’s library, so to speak, an archive in every company, I would think.

Henrik:  [10:57] For more on this and other Digital Asset Management topics, go to AnotherDAMblog.com. For this and 170 other podcasts episodes, go to AnotherDAMpodcast.com. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at AnotherDAMblog@Gmail.com.

[11:15] Thanks again.