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Another DAM Podcast interview with Deborah Gonzalez on Digital Asset Management

Deborah Gonzalez 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 Deborah Gonzalez. Deborah, how are you?

Deborah Gonzalez:  [0:10] I am good. Thank you for having me today.

Henrik:  [0:14] Deborah, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?

Deborah:  [0:16] First of all, I am an attorney. I also own a consulting company called Law2sm. What we do is look at the legal aspects of online digital and social media activity. One of the things that I work with, particularly with my clients, is to make them understand what the concept of Digital Assets is and that these Digital Assets have value that need to be protected. Right?

[0:43] Then, as they go and make certain decisions to protect those assets, to think about different scenarios of what may happen in case the access and control management that they have in place might need to change.

[1:00] We take two different perspectives. When we are working with individuals, we are looking at a digital legacy plan and personal digital assets, but when we are working with businesses, we are looking at a digital succession plan.

Henrik:  [1:16] Deborah, what should people consider for succession planning for digital assets whether individuals leave an organization voluntarily, involuntarily, or quite literally die while employed for a company in the United States?

Deborah:  [1:30] I think the first thing is that people need to be aware that this can be an issue. I don’t think people go into business and think, “Oh, my god. The person who is in charge of all my assets is going to get hit by a car and die or become so critically injured that they can’t do their job.” It is important as a business person to make sure that is in our consciousness.

[1:53] Then, make sure that we put it into a succession plan regarding the control access and management of these assets. No matter what kind of scenario happens. Right? Whether it is a voluntary separation with an employee or an involuntary separation with an employee.

[2:10] The second thing is that this plan should also include an inventory of the digital assets, who has access and control over those digital assets, and what are the credentials to access those digital assets. This will help because you combine this with the protocol in place for managers and supervisors to have those credentials as well. If something happens, the information isn’t lost to the business completely. We call this our digital record keeping. Making sure we know what we have and how to get to them.

[2:45] Third, I always suggest to my clients that they integrate into the exit interview. Some of these businesses might even have a terminated employee checklist that they have to go through these steps when an employee leaves the company but add a couple of items that relate specifically to digital assets and their credentials, and ensure that these credentials are transferred. Once they are transferred, make sure also that these credentials are changed, so that employee no longer has access to them from outside of the company.

Henrik:  [3:21] Deborah, are there laws protecting digital assets after death?

Deborah:  [3:24] Yes, and it’s really interesting because one of the things that we have to think about, is go back into the whole idea of the US, in terms of the laws being very property centric. The first laws that we have that will deal digital assets and any transfer are what we call the inheritance laws, especially for personal digital assets. That’s in our constitution, right? This idea of property, and so what we in the legal terms call, “The Power of Dead Hands.” This is very different from other countries who are more interested in that property not be wasted. If the person has died or been terminated, then that property needs to be changed to somebody who can use it. That’s a very different perspective than the US perspective.

[4:13] To add a complexity to that, in 1986, Congress actually passed a law that forbids consumer electronic communications companies from disclosing content without its owner’s consent or a government order like a police investigation or a subpoena. And so, the issue there was to protect the consumer’s privacy and for consumer protection. That’s why we have lots of companies that then include in their website terms of use, certain clauses that say if the person dies, then the account is automatically terminated.

[4:48] You can think of your frequent flyer miles, for example, what will they say? You can transfer miles, you can gift miles while you are alive, but not once you are dead. OK? Other things that also act that way are maybe your email systems or online banking.

[5:06] From a business perspective, then you have to think of some of the service provider agreements like if you are using cloud storage for your digital assets. What do they say about their assets and termination of an employee, or a change of the credentials? You want to make sure that if there is a third party involved that you know what the service provider agreements actually say.

[5:30] We are beginning to see some specific state laws that actually have included the language of digital assets in them. Right now we have seven states passing legislation talking about executor power over digital assets. These include Connecticut and Rhode Island. They only cover email. But Indiana, Idaho and Oklahoma cover social networking and blogging accounts, and also Nebraska. The problem is that these sometimes are in conflict with the website in terms of use of some these sites that we use with our digital assets, and the laws have not really been tested in court. So, in August of 2014, a governor, Jack Markell of Delaware actually signed HB345. This is the first of its kind in the US. Now again, it’s relatively new, but it is interesting to see the progressions that states have made.

[6:31] The other thing that I want to bring up is that we did have a Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act that was approved in July 2014, trying to get a standard across the nation, but that is voluntary. That’s not a federal mandated act.

[6:49] But you can get some additional information. There is a great blogger, Geoffrey Fowler, who wrote “Life and Death Online: Who Controls a Digital Legacy?” and you can certainly Google him and follow the information that he’s put out there. He writes for the Wall Street Journal. He’s definitely looking at the value these digital assets have.

Henrik:  [7:11] What are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with digital asset management?

Deborah:  [7:15] The biggest challenge that I’ve seen is this unawareness of the issue, that there’s all these assets out there in digital space, and that we’ve put someplace and it’s very easy to lose track of them if we don’t have a system in place to actually manage them. It becomes almost an afterthought for so many businesses and individuals.

[7:41] When someone dies, or when an employee abruptly leaves, this can cause a lot of chaos. It can be a loss to the business of client information, which can then lead to a loss of financial assets. There’s a lot of wasted time that happens trying to figure out what the password is or even how to reset the password and lots of frustration. It can actually affect the whole work environment as they’re trying to get a hold on these digital assets.

[8:11] As for the biggest success, I think it’s when clients actually develop a plan that addresses the issue, and it’s almost like a sigh of relief, that they know that they’ve addressed this and they’ve taken care of it. More importantly, not only did they address it, but then that they integrate it into the way that they operate their business, because this isn’t something that you just do once and then sort of forget, as you see the laws are changing. Therefore you have to make sure that plans that you have in place for your business change as well and is up to date with the laws and what you need to do to protect your assets.

Henrik:  [8:48] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

Deborah:  [8:53] The first thing that I’d like to share is that the whole digital assets arena is really growing, and it’s getting integrated with things such as the privacy concerns and the security concerns. The first bit of advice is learn about it and keep learning about it.

[9:09] I usually tell people, “Read. Keep up to date.” I know there’s a lot of things going on. There are new technologies being involved, new trends and new headlines. You can certainly use things like Google Alerts or Talkwalker to get the new things pushed to you in an email so that you can keep up to date with that.

[9:29] Another thing I’d like to suggest is network. Meet with others in the digital asset management field, whether that’s following certain people on Twitter and seeing what they’re talking about, seeing what they’re reading, seeing where they’re going, or going to these conferences, even if you can’t go in person.

[9:46] So many of these conferences are now being done virtually, and so you’re able to even communicate with others who are not able to physically attend the conference, but that you can communicate online. Networking is really important because everybody reads something. Pulling that all together can make it a lot easier than having the responsibility of trying to read everything that there is.

[10:11] The last thing that I would suggest is talk about what you’re doing with digital asset management and listen to what others are doing and share those best practices. Share the lessons learned, because we all make mistakes. There’s always something to learn about what not to do or how to do it better next. Being able to talk about it also helps us reflect what happened and what we can do better.

Henrik:  [10:36] Great. Well thanks, Deborah.

Deborah:  [10:37] OK.

Henrik:  [10:38] Deborah, where can we find more information on what you do?

Deborah:  [10:42] You can follow me on Twitter @law2sm. The website is, or you can email me at

Henrik:  [10:58] For more on this and other digital asset management topics, login to For more this podcast and 150 other podcast episodes, including transcripts of every interview, go to If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at

Thanks again.

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Another DAM Podcast interview with Joe Bachana on Digital Asset Management

Joe Bachana discusses Digital Asset Management

Here are the questions asked:

  • How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
  • How do open source Digital Asset Management (DAM) solutions stack up today?
  • 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 Joe Bachana. Joe,
how are you?
Joe Bachana: [0:11] Great. Hi.
Henrik: [0:12] Joe, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
Joe: [0:16] Personally, I’ve been implementing Digital Asset Management since
about 1997. My first project with DAM was when I was working with a company
called Image, Inc. I was implementing a product called Phrasea, which was a
French-based solution. I had way back then experienced implementing products
like MediaBank. North Plains TeleScope I had implemented at a number
of locations around that time, as well. [0:42] I founded DPCI, which is a technology
company that implements content solutions. I founded that in ‘99. We’ve
been doing Digital Asset Management projects ever since with a wide variety of
Digital Asset Management products for a whole variety of use cases, as well.
Henrik: [0:58] How do open source Digital Asset Management or DAM solutions
stack up today?
Joe: [1:04] We have to look at them in a few different ways. The first is the
business of open source DAM. The second, you would have to look at the legal
underpinnings of those solutions. The third would be the technology. Some
people say, “Let’s take a look at the technology real quickly first,” but I think
that’s a mistake. [1:22] One of the reasons why we look at the business is that
the open source DAM projects are very different from the open source Web content management solutions out there. The CMSs such as WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, or Plone are principally anywhere between a very large collection of
contributors globally to those projects to maybe a little more modest contributor
[1:48] Generally, it’s anywhere between a few hundred people and thousands
and thousands of people contributing to the innovations of these open source
projects, so they’ve taken firm foothold into the rubric or fabric of not only
our country but globally, the way Web content management innovations are
[2:06] In the case of Digital Asset Management, not as much. You do have solutions
that have been created out of Europe, out of the UK, and here in the
United States that there are a couple of folks that are working on it that are
friends or colleagues, or you’ll have companies that are behind the products
with their own resources. The solutions themselves haven’t necessarily taken
root as global initiatives.
[2:35] That doesn’t mean it’s not going that way. You’re starting to see more of
what happened 10 to 12 years ago in the CMS world starting to happen in the
DAM world. The reason why it’s not going to happen as rapidly is, to me, Digital
Asset Management is a little bit like the plumbing in your and my walls. It’s nice
when it’s working, but it’s not the sexiest thing in the world.
[2:57] The thing that everybody cares about is how nice does your house look.
It’s like the CMS. The CMS is the presentation of your content as well as the
ways in which you develop your content the workflows and so forth. Obviously,
no CMS is created equal.
Joe: [3:13] With respect to DAM, companies principally use Digital Asset
Management systems for archive and retrieval of their assets. That’s a simplified
notion of what DAM should do. Both you and I both know there’s a
huge number of reasons people implement DAM, ranging from selling content
through storefronts to integrating DAMs with CMSs, CRMs, or ERPs
and so forth.
[3:38] In the case of media companies where they’re selling their content,
whether it’s through rich media like video or live streaming, these things obviously
are the core of their business. It’s not just about archival. It’s about real
work in progress and delivering that content across multiple channels.
[3:57] The pace of innovation in the open source world from a business standpoint
is certainly not as rapid yet. It’s not as sexy.
[4:06] There’s one project that we’re involved with for a media company. They’re
headquartered here in New York City. They had been veterans of a couple of
different proprietary platforms. They had spent millions on a couple of different
solutions. They made a determination that they were going to try an open
source implementation. They are doing a good amount of work to having us do
some cool customizations for them to add on top of the open source solution.
[4:34] The question always is…What we like to do in open source is, we like to
contribute back to the community, however small or big it is. Hence, we oftentimes
will go to that customer and say, “As a precursor to our signing on,
do you have any objections to us contributing these solutions out in an open
source way?”
[4:53] That gets to the business aspect of it. The other part of the business
aspect of it is operationalizing DAM. For companies that have had experience
with proprietary vendors, some of the vendors have 24/7 support. Some of
them, not so much.
The DAM vendors can be smaller companies in some cases, so they don’t necessarily
have the resources. When you have a president of a company answering
the phone at 11: [5:07] 00 at night to support you, that’s generally not a good
sign, although some of the presidents of these DAM companies are absolute
geniuses. It’s always a pleasure to talk to some of them. But it isn’t a scalable
model. Operationalizing maintenance and support, it’s something that some
of the proprietary vendors don’t do that well. But if you look at it in the CMS
world, when you think about the kind of services you can get out of an Acquia
and Drupal, which is commercial support.
[5:44] There are other alternatives on that side, as well. Those types of things
aren’t necessarily fully hammered out yet in the open source world. Because
businesses behind the open source DAM projects are sometimes not matured
yet. They may be smaller groups. So that’s going to change over time. The
second point was this notion of the legalistic implications of open source. Not all
open source is created equal or licensed equally.
[6:11] You’ve got different licensing schemes out there. A very common one is
the GNU GPL. You hear about that one a lot in the web CMS world. In DAM,
quite a number of them take advantage of the lesser GPL, LGPL, which has
some limitations. These things people have to really reflect on, when they’re getting involved.

Do they want to do an open source implementation where there may be some restrictions.

Joe: [6:37] I also look at these products… Does the company who is creating
it, are they paying lip service to open source? But then you start to think, “Do
they have all their documentation out there online? Can you readily download
and install that product?” If you’re really open source, you’ve got to behave like
open source, which to me means freely downloadable and installing, and freely
available documentation.
[7:01] Then it’s your prerogative to decide whether you want to purchase services
from a company or whichever individual. The legalistic application of it
is quite important when people are reflecting on open source. Now we get to
the technical. This is the one everybody really concentrates on first. People ask
me, “Don’t even look at the products if you can’t first look and see what the
business and the legal implications are of the solution you’re about to go forward
[7:29] The open source DAMs are approaching, in general, the work group functionalities
of products out there, in the marketplace. If you look at solutions like
Resource Space or Enter Media, Rezuna as well. There are a couple more, I’m
not trying to plug these products, simply giving it as examples that these solutions
are starting to meet the needs of work group, Digital Asset Management,
which would be considered, for me, the ability to import, either individually or
batch, a whole variety of digital asset types.
[8:08] And on ingestion, to be able to automate the creation of thumbnails and
previews and even evoke certain recipes for conversion of the assets. If you,
upload a PSD or any PS file, then you can set up recipes for conversion to JPEG s
at certain widths and depths. The ability to also capture metadata information.
Things aren’t all created equally, but the ability to capture XMP metadata, for
example, is something that is available in several of these products.
[8:38] In one case, we actually did some customizations where we have some
preprocessing of assets within Adobe Bridge for a customer. Then the assets
are going into their open source DAM. It’s a phenomenal thing, because they’re batch modifying with some extended XMP metadata, with their own panel within their Adobe Creative Suite products. And then that information is getting
ingested into those open source DAMs.
[9:06] These kinds of basic functionalities are available. It’s really exciting, because
they’re there. We’ve actually implemented quite a number of these kinds
of projects. They’re working. For a year or two years, they’re in business, in
use. The other thing that I find really exciting is that the whole promise of open source, to me, is you don’t have to say, “Mother, may I?” The whole idea of innovate and ingenuity in software, the open source software world is the ability to just step up and say, “I want to create something of value that’s available or
that I need for the context I need it.”
Joe: [9:45] Without saying, “Hey, may I please do that?” And then somebody saying, “Yeah sure. But pay $20,000 for an SDK and sign this agreement that you won’t do this or that.” With open source, you can do it. A couple of the
open source products have robust web services and published APIs that, essentially,
allow you to do anything you want, ranging from connecting the DAM
to a produce like Drupal or WordPress, or connecting it to your CRM, if that’s
what you needed, and so on. That, to me, is the most exciting aspect. In one
case, we did a project down in Atlanta for a company where they had this huge
infrastructure. They needed to just automate the production of real estate guide books.
Joe: [10:31] So we have this integration of, in that case it was a product called EnterMedia, with believe it or not, a whole Microsoft infrastructure. Integrated
with Adobe Live Cycle, integrated with Data Plan Journal Designer. And integrated,
I’ll add, with the InDesign server. So the whole infrastructure is automating
the pagination of these real estate books, straight from sales folks just
entering the data on the individual homes that are going to be offered.
[11:02] This content is being used to create both the web listings, as well as the
print catalog books or guide books that are being done in multiple states. It’s saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in their production processes. The DAM is an underlying technology within the architecture. It works flawlessly and it’s
open source. They save themselves… If you think about the amount of money
they spent on the other infrastructure. [laughs]
[11:28] They spent a fraction of their budget on the actual DAM implementation.
There’s a lot you can do with open source DAM solutions as underlying architectural
decisions for larger projects. And for very modest use cases around
archival and retrieval of assets you absolutely can use those types of solutions in
your business.
Henrik: [11:54] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and
people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Joe: [11:59] That’s a great question and I appreciate it, Henrik. A lot of folks
come into this industry… I should add, I’ve been doing this type of thing for
26 years now. I’m not going to count my tech jobs while I was in college,
which principally were around content technologies. But 26 years ago, content
technologies were a whole different animal. To me, there’s a lot of folks that
enter the market and they want to be DAM professionals and they want to get
jobs doing this. [12:28] My concern has been folks coming out there and never
having laid their hands on a single product, without having done a single implementation.
There’s a lot of information that goes on and a lot of folks that are…
There’s no certification for becoming a DAM professional or a DAM analyst or
consultant. Yet people go out there and help folks with RPs and so forth, and
they’ve never done a DAM project.
[12:54] To me, if you’re right out of college, first of all, there’s some colleges which actually have some programs, like RIT, the print management school.
They have a course in Digital Asset Management. It is modest. But they give
people a chance to understand how to configure. What are the important use
cases trying to be solved in DAM? Getting hands-on experience with DAM is
really important. Even if you never will touch the technology in your career and
you want to be a pundit or someone who’s just a thought leader, you’ve got to
able to touch them and understand what these types of products, this class
of products, do.
[13:33] What problems do they solve? That’s just me. Other people would probably
emphatically disagree. But I don’t think, going back to the plumber motif
that I said earlier or concept, you can speak with authority about plumbing
if you’ve never laid in the pipes an understand what the heck goes on there.
I certainly don’t understand what’s happening behind the walls. That’s one
thing. The second is, the best, to me, really exciting folks out there are the folks
who’ve gone to library science school.
[14:05] They really fundamentally understand what information science or information
architecture is. How do you define a taxonomy? What is an ontology?
How do you create controlled vocabularies? What’s that process? Sometimes
folks that were in data modeling are very good at that, as well. They’re very
thoughtful. A lot of times we go in as professionals and over engineer the
model, the information architecture of a platform.
[14:35] That becomes onerous for the folks who are trying to capture that metadata
and track it. There has to be a reasonableness that goes on, which again,
goes back to point number one. Which is, try to become a practitioner. But,
understanding that these are human systems, that’s the third thing. Again, we
talk about first laying your hands on these types of things, second is understand
how taxonomy is laid out. If you have money to go to library science school or, if
not, pick up some books on it.

[15:04] There’s some great resources out there for that. The third thing is understanding the use cases or the workflows. Because the DAM systems don’t necessary do workflow really well. But every single person or any company that’s
creating, managing, enriching and delivering assets has implicit workflows.
Some that are simple. Some that are very complex. Until you really understand
what those are, you’re going to be hampered.
Joe: [15:34] I’m talking about not just people starting out in their career, but folks
that are 10, 15, 20 years in, that are delivering Digital Asset Management implementations.
A lot of times they don’t pay attention to the ways people interact
with assets through the life cycle. Different asset or content types have different workflows.

The way you’re creating an interactive object is going to be different
from some sort of an image file or video file and so forth.
[16:02] Those have different ways of being manipulated through a whole class of
employee types or user types. So understanding those is really important. Once
you get those you’re going to be more sensitive to the way people work. The
fourth thing is, understand how to listen and understand how people currently
work, meeting them halfway. Just coming in and implementing a DAM and
saying, “This is the way it works,” isn’t good enough.
[16:32] To be able to understand how an organization needs to work is important.
To hopefully deliver a DAM solution that supports that work and bolsters
and improves it, as opposed to makes people change the way they work, which
invariably, as you and I both know, doesn’t work. People rebel. You get into all
kinds of change management issues where folks just fight the DAM implementation.
I want to just end on this note, that a good way to inform your career
in DAM is that everybody high fives themselves when the DAM installation is
[17:09] But the way you test the success of a DAM solution is two to three years
out. How many people are using it? How many assets are there? Is it supporting
the business? Has duplication of assets been minimized or eliminated? Are there
issues with finding assets that were thrown in two years before, that are important?
That’s the way you test. You always have to think forward in this business.
Think about the results you’re going to be creating, two to three years in.
Henrik: [17:38] Thanks, Joe.
Joe: [17:40] Cool.
Henrik: [17:41] For more on this and other Digital Asset Management topics,
log onto 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
Thanks again.

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