What advice would you give to DAM Professionals or people aspiring to be a DAM Professional?
Henrik de Gyor: This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset
Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Heather Hedden.
Heather, how are you? Heather Hedden: [0:09] Fine, thanks. Thanks for inviting me. Henrik: [0:12] Heather, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management? Heather: [0:15] Actually I’m a taxonomist. That’s closely related. I create taxonomies
which are usually structured sets of terms used for metadata to tag or
classify content item. The content can be digital assets or text documents. I’m
involved in more than just Digital Asset Management as I see it. [0:36] I originally
got into the field from a background of indexing with a company that has now
become Cengage Learning, indexes, reference materials for libraries, magazine
and newspaper articles, pamphlets, maps, charts, and images too. I’ve worked
as a taxonomist in both full-time positions and as a consultant or contractor. I’m
in between jobs at the moment.
[1:03] My most recent job was as the taxonomy manager in a wind energy company
based in Boston. There I developed a better nested folder for the hierarchical
classification of content to better support browsing. I also developed
taxonomies with numerous synonyms for auto classification of content to better
[1:24] A third taxonomy project included metadata for manually tagging content
was also in the plans. Although many documents there were text files, they also
had CAD drawings, topographical maps, PowerPoint presentations, and image
files such as many photos of wind farm locations and wind turbines.
[1:46] The taxonomy covered lots of terms dealing with all these different documents,
technical, legal, financial, covering all areas of the business. I’ve also
been involved in developing policies or guidelines for tagging or classifying
content with a taxonomy which is an important component of taxonomy work. Henrik: [2:07] Heather, you recently wrote a book called “The Accidental Taxonomist.” What inspired you to write this book? Heather: [2:12] I’m glad you asked. I also teach a continuing education workshop.
It’s a five week workshop through Simmons College Graduate School
of Library and Information Science. It’s an introduction to taxonomy. I’ve been
doing that for a couple of years. [2:27] I got an inquiry if I would teach a second,
more advanced class. I just got to thinking about how much work that would be
because it’s ongoing every other month or something. Since I had accumulated
some other written materials and giving presentations, I thought maybe it would
better to put this all into a book that would serve both those at an introductory
level and at a more advanced level if you had a lot of material together.
[2:54] As a backup I had also been doing kind of freelance side work back to the
book indexing, writing indexes to nonfiction books. I’ve been reading a lot of
different nonfiction books, some of them professional books. I thought, “Well,
maybe I could write a book too.”
[3:11] I consider my background pretty comprehensive in both that I created
taxonomies used by human manual indexers, taggers, and those for auto classifications.
I’ve also created taxonomies for more commercial, published content
and those that are for internal enterprise content.
[3:34] With that kind of broad background I felt pretty qualified to write a book
on this. Some people have written book that are more narrow just for enterprise
taxonomy. When I looked around, there really wasn’t that much out there just on
[3:52] There’s another book that’s more on knowledge management or some
that are focused on controlled vocabularies more for wide learning focus areas.
It was a need that needed filling. Henrik: [4:05] Heather, is there a website where you can get more information
about this? Heather: [4:09] Oh yes. It’s www.accidentaltaxonomist.com which has a lot of
information about the book, the table of contents, the index, the introduction,
forward. It also has all the websites mentioned throughout the book, the URLs,
and they are hyperlinked. You can actually get a lot of information that I have in
my book without reading it, although I hope you do. Readers can go do that. Henrik: [4:41] What advice would you give to DAM professionals or people aspiring
to be a DAM professional? Heather: [4:47] Considering I’m a little bit on the sidelines of the DAM profession
myself being a taxonomist, I do see similarities there and I recommend this
for people going into taxonomy as well or other fields such as content management.
[5:01] It involves having more of a broader skill set and experience,
so combining a DAM background with, perhaps, taxonomy management or
content management experience or also indexing background that I have had
or experience with maybe search technologies or more of a technology background
and perhaps a subject area expertise, so something to some specialty
area to distinguish one’s self.
[5:38] Also, I think people should be open to any industry. You might think of
maybe traditional media based industries, but all kinds of companies, all kinds
of industries now have a growing core list of different types of assets. I never
thought I’d end up in the wind energy industry. Keep your eyes open to anything
and network a lot. Henrik: [6:04] Great idea. Thanks, Heather. Heather: [6:07] OK , you’re welcome. It was nice to talk to you. Henrik: [6:10] No problem. For more on Digital Asset Management, log onto AnotherDAMblog.com. Thanks again.
How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
Why does a training and development organization use a DAM?
What advice would you like to give to DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Henrik de Gyor: [0:01] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset
Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Anthony Allen.
Anthony, how are you? Anthony Allen: [0:10] I’m doing great. Thank you very much for
having me today. Henrik: [0:13] Not a problem. Anthony, how are you involved with Digital Asset
Management? Anthony: [0:18] I’m the Director of Digital Media for The American Society for
Training and Development. It always helps to explain a company or an audience
before diving into the finer points of Digital Asset Management. ASTD is an
association for trainers. We train trainers. [0:43] We’ve been in business for about
60 years. We have about 45,000 members. We are a nonprofit, a mission driven
publisher, but still very much care about the bottom line. We consider ourselves
a small publisher. We publish books, magazines, pamphlets, smaller 28 or 30
[1:11] We also have a very heavy practice for video. The video and media production
is specifically geared to our conferences. We have a small 1500 person
conference in January and a large 8000 person conference in June.
[1:30] We record most of the material there, so we produce hundreds and hundreds
of hours of conference content every year as well, so there are thousands
of assets in our digital library for PowerPoints sent to audio and live, full frame
video production for the conferences.
[1:55] I was brought on to ASTD, that’s how I refer to the company, about three
years ago to basically take care of the content management, Digital Asset
Management, tagging, XML. I’ve delved full force into that realm.
[2:15] When I came to ASTD there was really quite a shock. I had come from
the video world, and I was a producer at Discovery Channel. Video, they were
making TV basically the same way for decades. The taxonomy and the metadata
based publishing search within libraries for video assets are actually quite
mature. Lucky me.
[2:46] I had actually then moved on to ASTD, and I came to a publishing house
in an industry that had no taxonomy. The content is also highly contextual,
meaning that search is very, very difficult with training content. The reason is
because it’s the exact opposite of medical content. If you search for basal cell
carcinoma in a medical directory, you’re going to get information about basal
[3:17] Training content, on the other hand, is very contextual, and trainers
argue about the definitions. I was at a shock, at a loss for where to start, when
I started my job as a content manager. With ASTD over the past three years,
what we’ve done is we’ve developed a taxonomy for the training industry that
I’m now going out into other content production houses for training content and
trying to get them to adopt the training taxonomy.
[3:53] It’s a very, very large initiative for us. I’ve also made some large technology
purchases for the content management benefit of all of the content production
departments within ASTD. We have an XML based content management
system, an XML based metadata workflow publishing engine. We also have a
part of ASTD that goes and takes our content, which is at the very, very end of
the print cycle, PDFs, and then converts that content into XML.
[4:36] Then it is tagged according to our taxonomy. It is tagged according to the
DITA XML standard, and then it is put into a repository. Afterwards, we have,
basically, what I call a workflow expansion framework that allows us to build new
workflows to get new formats out into the publishing world, make money with
ePub, make money with other formats as well.
[5:07] That gives us a scope of how I’m involved with Digital Asset Management.
It really was from zero to now I would say that we have a lot of our internal production
workflow practices matured. Now we’re squarely looking at the future
as far as getting this content out and creating new and exciting applications that
leverage the metadata. The word of the day and the phrase for the future is
really metadata based publishing for ASTD. Henrik: [5:43] Why does a training and development organization use a DAM
specifically? What is the end goal? Anthony: [5:50] There are two things here, there’s ASTD, the small publisher,
but then there’s also ASTD, the representative and quasi governing body for
training and development organizations, of which our members are trainers
within organizations. They are independent consultants who are brought in to
large companies like IBM, to give sexual harassment training, leadership training,
and so on. [6:23] We also represent the vendors in this space. Those vendors
can include other small publishers of training content. It can include technology
companies that produce learning management systems, and it can also
be other companies that create training content. A hot topic right now is education
modules, education component, so smaller building blocks of content.
[6:50] I’ll tackle the first part first, ASTD as the publisher of content. We don’t
really do anything different than any other small publishing house does. Tongue
in cheek I say, “We look at what the big boys are doing and we try to mimic it.”
[7:10] There are a couple of things that are going on here. Companies like
O’Reilly, very hot in the digital publishing space, are setting the expectation of
digital formats. When you buy an EPUB or an eBook from O’Reilly you actually
get .apk, .mobi, EPUB, and now even DAISY , which is… Henrik: [7:36] You get multiple formats. You get multiple formats, right? You get
to choose or all of the above? Anthony: [7:42] Yes, it allows you to really feel confident that you are going to
be able to use this on your devices, which is, on the TV side, TV anywhere was
something that kind of happened a while ago. Then the digital rights locker,
which NeuStar is trying to get off the ground, is another one of those, “Let’s get
to the promise land of, “I buy this movie, I buy this TV show, and I get to view it
on all my devices.” It’s, again, metadata based, digital sites management. [8:17]
But ASTD isn’t doing anything different than other small publishers in saying,
“We need to look at what the big boys are doing and mimic it.” There are definitely
business reasons for doing that.
[8:30] As far as the O’Reilly example goes, we need to meet the expectations of
our customers. Those expectations are not being set by us, they’re being set by
other companies like O’Reilly. They’re doing a really good job of making those
expectations harder and harder to attain.
[8:47] We have to keep up with each new search experience, with the great
search experience that somebody has at Google, with each great business
model that the newspapers make up. Smaller people, smaller publishers like
ASTD have got to keep up with that or we look further and further behind.
[9:06] Now, the other part of the piece is stuff like Amazon. This, again, speaks to
the first part of ASTD as a small publisher. Amazon is great because, as ASTD is
a commercial publisher we have lots of our stuff up on Amazon, but the taxonomy
that governs Amazon is completely meaningless for trainers.
[9:29] One of our big, hit books is called, “Telling Ain’t Training.” One of the four
ways it’s listed metadata-wise is under psychology and counseling. Now, no
trainer is going to go to psychology and counseling to find training content.
[9:47] Amazon is great in that it sends way more traffic to our book than we ever
could, but from a business perspective they take a huge cut. The training taxonomy
metadata based publishing and better categories on our stores that are
more meaningful for our audience, is going to allow us to sell more on our own
website, which is where we keep most of the profits.
[10:16] Building my P and L for my boss and saying, “Hey, we need to invest
$255,075,000 in this new technology,” part of that P and L, that business justification
is driving traffic back to our site where we don’t have to depend on other
sites like Amazon, where they take a huge cut of the book. Henrik: [10:37] Just to clarify, P and L, you mean profit and loss? Anthony: [10:40] Yeah, exactly. As a business owner, I have to go to my boss,
beg for money and he says, “Anthony, why?” Henrik: [10:48] Prove your cause. Anthony: [10:49] Exactly. The other part of your question was “Why does a
training and development organization use the DAM?” [10:57] The big part of
training and technology, where those two things meet are in what I call actually,
what everybody calls Learning Management Systems.
[11:10] Learning Management Systems are things, like Blackboard is a big LMS.
[11:17] Those systems are where a student can start a class and the learning
management systems take the student through the class and mark off with
metadata what has been completed, what the scores are.
[11:31] It takes all of that data and sends it to the teacher for verification, it marks
off what classes they’ve taken.
[11:39] The other thing that it does is it can match learning objectives and content
to industry metadata standards like SCORM, one of them for the education
[11:52] That kind of flow of data and process, the whole eLearning industry
would not have been born had it not been for Digital Asset Management.
[12:09] All of the video clips that people play as part of their class, moving things
around from this folder to that other folder, being able to create new classes
and training sessions, new educational sessions that are built off of learning
blocks from other training classes, being able to customize courses, none of that
stuff would happen without a Digital Asset Management.
[12:35] If you look at the rise of Blackboard, Blackboard is now an incredibly profitable
company. They did their IPO. I look at Rosetta Stone and they’re used to a
Digital Asset Management.
[12:47] I look at Audible.com, it was there with their audio versions of books.
These are all companies that have found incredible amounts of success by leveraging
Digital Asset Management and selling better to their customers, meeting
their customer’s expectations.
[13:05] Quicker time to market, better product, it’s all through the leveraging of
technology. Henrik: [13:12] Anthony, what advice would you like to give to DAM professionals
or people aspiring to become DAM professionals? Anthony: [13:20] There’s a place in the US called, Silicon Valley and there happens
to be thousands of web startups there. [13:28] A lot of web startups start
with a problem statement. What problem are you trying to fix and how does
your web startup fix that problem?
[13:38] I would recommend to anybody that wants to become a DAM professional
to figure out what problems there are and then create a solution
that’s DAM specific. Start with a problem statement you can start at your
[13:55] No matter what the company, what the entity, there’s probably a process
that’s at risk for falling apart because of ill management. There’s probably a process
that could use a dose of technology.
[14:12] These kinds of problems that can be fixed with a proper process is ripe
for a Digital Asset Management system.
[14:22] There’s so much sense of media even non-media companies because
of the rise of media and consumable media on the web, consider themselves,
“Part-time media companies.”
[14:37] Digital Asset Management then comes into play for seemingly unrelated
industries and companies. For anybody aspiring to get into the DAM, Digital
Asset Management field, start with a problem.
[14:52] Look at your company and say, “Wow, this really is a problem.” Then,
think, “How can this problem be fixed with Digital Asset Management?”
[15:03] I encourage people to go out and meet other people in the Digital Asset
Management field, go up to them. Find them on LinkedIn and go up to them at
[15:15] Pose your problem to them and say, “My company has this issue, how
would you fix it?” You never know what that Digital Asset Management professor
may give to you.
[15:30] If you go to your boss with that, that boss will see you as “This person is
trying to fix problems, trying to help, trying to leverage technology.” You make
far about a whole new job description for yourself in the process.
[15:41] That’s where I would start, with a problem statement. Henrik: [15:45] Thank you, Anthony. For more on Digital Asset Management,
log onto anotherdamblog.com, thanks again.
How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
How does taxonomy relate to Digital Asset Management?
What advice would you like to give to 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 Seth Earley. Seth,
how are you? Seth Earley: [0:09] I am terrific. Thank you for having me. Henrik: [0:11] Great. Seth, how are you involved with Digital Asset
Management? Seth: [0:15] Well, I’ll tell you. We have been doing work with Digital Asset
Management for probably the entire 15 years that I’ve been doing this kind of
work. I’ve been involved in content management, in document management, in
knowledge management for that period of time. Throughout the entire career,
we’ve always had to deal with nontextual assets. We’ve always had to deal with
some rich media. [0:40] I remember at the beginning when we were doing work
with Lotus Notes. The first time you could drop an image into a rich text field, I
was like, “Wow. This is so amazingly cool. I cannot believe you can drop a picture
into a rich text field.” Ever since then we’ve been dealing with digital assets
and Digital Asset Management Systems. Henrik: [1:02] Excellent. Seth, how does taxonomy relate to Digital Asset
Management? Seth: [1:13] You can infer something about text assets. You can derive something.
You can do text mining. There are is-ness and about-ness inherently
within the content. [1:20] When you build an index, when you’re doing search,
you’re searching text assets by inferring something about the nature of the
content. You can create a forward index by looking at the words in a document.
You invert that index, which gives you the pointers to specific documents
based on the words. And then, that’s derived metadata about the text, about
[1:43] You don’t have that ability to do that with any kind of Digital Asset
Management, with digital assets, with rich media, with images. There’s no inherent
is-ness or about-ness, so, of course, we have to use metadata.
[1:56] The way we look at metadata and taxonomy, taxonomy is really the way
of beginning to organize your metadata. We don’t look at taxonomy in a very
narrow sense of navigation. We look at taxonomy from a perspective of classification
and overall information architecture.
[2:15] When we start looking at taxonomy, we want to begin thinking about the
types of fields and the ways that we can start to tag the assets with metadata.
Then we want to populate those fields with reference data, with the drop downs,
with the controlled vocabularies, with the lists and attributes.
[2:36] Taxonomies are considered to be hierarchical in nature. We can certainly
have hierarchical lists of controlled values, but there’s all sorts of different ways
of looking at information architecture that references taxonomies. Taxonomies
are the overall organizing principles around your metadata fields.
[2:58] Of course, whenever you think about metadata, if you have a large list of
attributes or a large list of values, you have to break those up for human consumption.
We can only deal with fairly short lists, maybe 5, 10, or maybe 15
items. If you start to get into lists that are 100 terms long or 200 terms or 500
terms, how do you deal with that? Well, you have to break it up. That’s where
you have to use hierarchies.
[3:25] You can even think of metadata fields as the top-level terms of your hierarchy.
A doc type will be a top-level term of a hierarchy. Maybe an asset type
would be a top-level term, or maybe a channel, a region, a language, or any of
those other types of attributes. Those can all be considered top-level terms of
the taxonomy. Really, all of the metadata is an expression of the taxonomy. Henrik: [4:01] Makes complete sense. Seth, what advice would you give to DAM
professionals or people aspiring to be DAM professionals? Seth: [4:12] Well, I think the best advice that I can give would be to get experience,
even with projects that are nonprofit organizations or organizations
that don’t have a lot of money, so that you can build your skills. Get a broad
understanding of information architecture, including things like wire frame development,
metadata schemas, and taxonomy development. [4:41] Look at the
semantics of your structures, and try to understand a little bit about library
science. Library science is the core foundation for all of these organizing principles.
I heard someone recently say that a Digital Asset Management system is a
Metadata Management System that does fancy things. I totally agree with that.
[5:04] You really do need to understand metadata structures and metadata schemas,
and understand things like Dublin Core. Look at the different ways that you
can organize those assets using various types of technologies. Look at how the
various technologies leverage organizing principles and leverage information
[5:28] I would get some very practical experience, though. Find a nonprofit organization
that doesn’t have a lot of resources, that would like to get your elbow
grease and your hard work to help them fix a system or help them organize their
assets. That’s a great way to build your resume.
[5:50] If you’re more experienced, definitely broaden your expertise by looking
at some training in library science and metadata schemas. Have a good, broad
understanding of the technologies. Henrik: [6:04] Great idea. Well, thanks, Seth. Seth: [6:07] Thank you. Henrik: [6:08] For more on Digital Asset Management, log onto anotherdamblog.com. Thanks again.