David Riecks of Controlled Vocabulary gave a presentation about indexing images. He pointed out that metadata is all around us, but we don’t tend to notice it. He described the sort of metadata needed to make an asset “smart” and how organizations like the PLUS registry are attempting to provide a simple, one-stop shop for rights and licensing metadata. The Embedded Metadata Manifesto sets out details of metadata that needs to be included in image files to promote easy and legal re-use of content and so protect the rights of photographers and others in the content creation and related industries.

David also provided an extremely useful list of metadata resources , including a handy link to a website that checks whether metadata is being stripped from files at the point of upload.

Laura Fu talked us through the latest Digital Asset Management (DAM) implementation at Sears and the issues they face in indexing the images used in their product catalogues. She gained stakeholder buy-in with the slogan: “We’re here to save your assets”! I was also quietly pleased by her comment that “Sears have 1.1 million assets, but users …want taxonomies and tagging to make search more Google-like”.

Randall Marcinko of Marcinko Enterprises Inc. then talked about using different elements of assets to act as indexing mechanisms. He gave an example of where they were able to use the images associated with pieces of text as disambiguators to distinguish between the text. He also pointed out the dangers of trying to make every information project the same, and to think carefully about what is needed. It is easey to fall into the trap of simply offering all clients the same solution, whether that works best for them or not. Depending on what you are trying to achieve, a simple list is all that is needed, not a complex taxonomy or thesaurus, and the simpler the method of solving a problem, the easier and cheaper it is likely to be to implement.