Category Archives: Digital Asset Management

Building bridges: Linking diverse classification schemes as part of a technology change project

    Start a conversation 
< 1 minute

My paper about my work on the linking and migration of legacy classification schemes, taxonomies, and controlled vocabularies has been published in the Journal for Business Information Review.

Building, visualising and deploying taxonomies and ontologies; the reality – Content Intelligence Forum event

    Start a conversation 
Estimated reading time 1–2 minutes

I have been trying to get to the Content Intelligence Forum meetups for some time as they always seem to offer excellent speakers on key topics that don’t tend to get the attention they deserve, so I was delighted to be able to attend Stephen D’Arcy’s talk a little while ago on taxonomies and ontologies.

Stephen has many years of experience designing semantic information systems for large organisations, ranging from health care providers, to banks, to media companies. His career illustrates the transferability and wide demand for information skills.

His 8-point checklist for a taxonomy project was extremely helpful – Define, Audit, Tools, Plan, Build, Deploy, Governance, Documentation – as were his tips for managing stakeholders, IT departments in particular. He warned against the pitfalls of not including taxonomy management early enough in search systems design, and the problems that you can be left with if you do not have a flexible and dynamic way of managing your taxonomy and ontology structures. He also included a lot of examples that illustrated the fun aspects of ontologies when used to create interesting pathways through entertainment content in particular.

The conversation after the talk was very engaging and I enjoyed finding out about common problems that information professionals face, including how best to define terms, how to encourage clear thinking, and how to communicate good research techniques.

Digital Asset Management – DAM EU Conference – Third Session

    Start a conversation 
Estimated reading time 2–3 minutes

Sustaining your DAM

Sara Winmill from the V&A talked about the huge shifts in mindset that were needed to accompany their DAM work. They needed to stop thinking about storing pictures of things and start thinking about managing those digital images as the things. Their needs for storage were vastly underestimated at first. Unlike the myth, storage is not so cheap – the V&A need some £330K for storage annually. They have been investigating innovative approaches to “backup bartering” – finding a similar organisation and storing a copy of each other’s data, so that the backups exist offsite but without the expense of using commercial storage companies.

Despite having a semantically enabled website, they have not been able to link their Library Catalogue’s MARC records with the images, and have three sets of identifiers that are not mapped.

One of their major DAM problems is trying to stop people storing multiple copies and refusing to delete anything. The core collections images need to be kept, but publicity and marketing material is now being stored in the system without any selection and disposal policies in place, The original system was designed without a delete button altogether.

Can we fix it? Yes we Can! Successfully Implementing a Multi-faceted DAM system at HiT entertainment

It was a pleasure to hear of Tabitha Yorke’s successful DAM implementation at HiT as they built their first digital library. This was a relatively constrained collection and two fulltime members of staff were able to catalogue it in a year. This provided the metadata they needed for a straightforward taxonomy-based search system that is simple and easy to use. This meant that self-research was supported, saving the team much time and increasing productivity hugely. They are now working to integrate the library with rights systems. They worked hard at getting users to test the metadata and made sure that they were cataloguing with terms the users wanted to search with, rather than those that occurred first to the cataloguers. They now have two digital librarians managing 150,000 assets.

Tabitha stayed on the stage and was joined in a panel session by David Bercovic, Digital Project Manager at Hachette UK, and Fearghal Kelly of Kit digital. The afternoon ended with David Lipsey’s concluding remarks.

Digital Asset Management – DAM EU Conference – Second Session

    Start a conversation 
Estimated reading time 4–6 minutes

Serco Artemis Digital – Realising the Value of Archives and Rehabilitating Prisoners

Bruce Hellman from Serco described the work they have been doing to employ prisoners as cataloguers and transcribers. The work, which varied from project to project, but which included typing up handwritten archival documents that were not suitable for OCR capture techniques and adding metadata, was very popular with prisoners.

Bruce argued that it gave them a chance to develop skills that would be useful in the workplace on their release, and allowed organisations to get work done more cheaply than by paying standard market rates.

How Metadata and Semantic Technologies will Revolutionise your Workflow

John O’Donovan of the Press Association gave an entertaining presentation about using semantic technologies to index or re-index and publish to the web content from a range of systems, including legacy systems and external feeds. He pointed out – with a series of amusing ambiguities and unintentional innuendos – that simple text search lacks context, and that newspaper headlines often contain jokes, ambiguous terms, and terms that quickly become obsolete. So, metadata is vital in assembling assets that are about the same topic.

He stressed the importance of keeping your metadata management separate from your content management, so that metadata can be changed without having to re-index assets. (An exception is rights and other non-subjective metadata that needed to be embedded in the asset for further tracking. This is not a major concern to the Press Association as they do not track assets once they are published onto the web. I wasn’t sure what would happen if you decided you wanted to repurpose your content, and so needed a new set of metadata, how you link content and metadata, and how you manage the metadata and content within their separate stores.)

The PA are using Mark Logic as the content repository and a BigOWLIM triplestore to handle the associated metadata. Content is fed into the content store, then out again to a suite of indexing technologies, including concept extraction and other text-processing systems, as well as facial recognition software, to create semantic metadata. Simple ontologies are used to model the content, mainly indexing people, places, and events – themes chosen as covering the most popular search terms entered by users of the website.

John argued that such gathering and indexing of assets in order to automatically create and publish collections of associated content was simpler and easier than ingesting diverse content and metadata into traditional search, content management, and online publishing systems.

DAM for Content Marketing, Curation, and Knowledge Organisation

Mark Davey of the DAM Foundation took us on an animated and musical tour of different perspectives on metadata, engagement, social media, and how different the “digital natives” – young people who have grown up with digital technologies – will be to previous generations. Kids of the future will be able to have an idea in the morning, go to an online website app and create their site, their brand, and their marketing strategy in the afternoon, and be engaging with their potential clients by the evening.

Mark pointed out that people have moved on from the initial narcissism of social media and self-publishing and now want compelling stories they can engage with. He pointed out that as semantic technologies advance, we are caught in a feedback loop with them – we are the ontology that is driving the machines – and so we should be aware and vigilant. As the technologies become more powerful and all pervasive, we may lose sight of how they are working to serve us, rather than how we are serving up information about ourselves to them.

Marketing will have to become more sophisticated. Amongst the many statistics he quoted, I noted that 84% of 25-34 year olds have left a favourite website because of ads. At the same time, our networks become more interconnected. In a “six degrees of separation” game, we discovered that three people in the audience had met the Dalai Lama, and we are linking to more and more people through social media sites every day.

The metaphor of information as water is a familiar one, especially in the knowledge management area, but Mark’s colleague Dave pointed out how appropriate it is when talking about a DAM/dam. The DAM system forms the reservoir of content.

(I couldn’t help comparing and contrasting the ever-changing semantic seas of information at the Press Association with the more manageable streams of content that flow within smaller organisations, and how very different approaches are needed for such different contexts. The other day I saw the metaphor used again, in an interview with – apparently – one of the LulzSec hackers who talked about their pirate boat and “copywrong” as an enemy of the seas. )

Black Holes and Revelations: DAM and a museum collection

As if to continue the water metaphor, the next speaker was Douglas McCarthy from the National Maritime Museum. However, he took the metaphor up a stage, to space ships and black holes, with their content assets hidden in black holes as 100,000 uncatalogued image files.

Having catalogued and improved their DAM system, the Musuem’s Picture Library is now showing a healthy profit. Many sales come from the “long tail” of images that no-one anticipated anyone would want. Rather than saturating the market, putting the images online has been stimulating demand, with customers calling for more collections to be made available.