As mentioned in the previous entry, I attended Createasphere’s DAM 101 Workshop and certification. Here’s the link if you’re interested.
I think this workshop was more popular than Createasphere could have imagined. How many people would want to wake up early on a Sunday to talk about DAM? Plenty in New York. I’ll be honest the fact that this workshop took place on a Sunday not a work day was my main motivation for going. I’m happy I did, it did not disappoint. There were some parts of the workshop that I knew about but quite a bit I didn’t. I learned alot of acronyms , which there are many in the alphabet soup of DAM. I liked how this workshop stressed that DAM was a business strategy not technology solution. I think this is important and doesn’t get emphasized enough. The best technology can’t solve a problem if there isn’t a plan to follow though and make it work.
The best part of the workshop were the “labs” I think break out groups would have been a better description. One of the labs I chose to take was LAB 2: Photography DAM, which was very good. I learned so much from Carin Forman and gain some good practical advice.
Since this program went better than expected, I’m sure you’ll see more of them at future Createasphere events. I hope so because I do think this is a great basic overview of DAM. In fact maybe they will make an advanced version of this workshop for us alumni to take.
I just saw that Butch Lazorchak posted an entry on the Signal Blog today on his presentation and his time at Createasphere. It’s well worth the read, if your interested about either.
The next session I attended was “10 Reasons Why DAM’s Fail,” presented by Alan Pelz-Sharpe who did an excellent job. He stressed the importance of a business case for DAM projects, that there usually isn’t one or if there is it was created after the decision was already made – more of a justification than a premeditated plan. These business cases can be very valuable if used correctly. He also spoke about how budgets for DAM projects are generally incorrect. It’s not just that the software that needs to be purchased, but that people need to be trained on how to use it. Things go wrong, even in the best managed projects, that can need money to fix. The suppliers could accidentally forget to mention some things and that can negatively impact the budget. Something I was surprised about was he talked about “shelfware.” I never heard of the term before. This is software that was purchased but never used. This is such a waste, in my opinion. The presenter also said that when your DAM system goes live that may be the peak but you still need to see through the use-adoption of the system. The roll-out of the system represents this. He said a Big Bang will blow up and he recommends rolling it out incrementally, in phases. A great follow-up to the “I Want My DAM” session, in my opinion. Pelz-Sharpe compared DAM to the “Hoarders” TV show (which I thought was a really good touch), gow good-housekeeping is essentials for DAM, and how such assets have a life-cycle. It sounds very familiar to the retention schedules that Record Managers use. He also had a list of basic tips to help avoid DAM Project Failure:
1. Keep it Simple
2. Measure it openly and objectively (Yes or No)
3. Spend 100% more time
4. Encourage Honest Reviews
5. Schedule Go/No-Go Decision points
6. Recognize that pulling a doomed project is a still a success
7. Translate Business Models into DAM architectural design
8. Accept that all problems are people problems
9. Project management and Project controls are a skill set
10. Develop and deliver functionality in stages
The last session I attended was a panel on digital preservation. Kara Van Malssen, of AudioVisual Preservation Solutions (whose table had a wonderful selection of button-pins), moderated Sally Hubbard of HBO and Karen Cariani of WGBH. They discussed how preservation begins at the point of creation. They cited some OAIS reference models and mentioned Audit and Certification of Trustworthy Digital Repositories. Digital preservation develops when people, technology, and policies work together to implement it. The content needs to last even if the systems containing the content changes. One of the presenters had a quote from Richard Wright of BBC that I thought was really good:
“A repository is to storage media as a library is to shelves. A storage mechanism is needed, but all public benefit depends upon a repository: a safe place to put content that also provides documentation, preservation, and access.”
The panelists talked about the importance of keeping multiple copies of assets, testing for bit-quality (which is the loss of 0’s and 1’s), and providing regular migrations. Access has three components: the View, the Re-use, and the Get Back The Asset. They also discussed the problem of large preservation files that can come in complicated formats. I thought it was interesting when Sally Hubbard mentioned that HBO had a Archive Committee.
I wasn’t able to take really good notes of the closing session, on the future is now. The panel inlcuded Jason Bright of Media Beacon, Alex Grossman of Active Stoage, Jess Hartman of ProMax Systems, Steve Sauder of North Plains, Luis Pelyao of Hollywood Tools, and Thomas Schleu of Canto. The panel was moderated by Dan McGraw of Seven Dials. Overall, it was a great discussion and a good note on which to close Createasphere this year. It was full of energy and thoughts on the future of DAM. I wouldn’t be able to do it justice by describing it here.
Honestly, I don’t know if my posts here can adequately capture what Createasphere had to offer. However, I think access to the actual presentations could remedy that. Thankfully, Createasphere does just that. You can find all Createasphere presentations here.
Friday at Createasphere started off with a keynote from Butch Lazorchak of the Library of Congress. For a budding archivist like me this was a real treat. He spent the beginning of the session differentiating between DAM’s and LAM’s (Library, Archives, Museums). He explained how each had its own data concerns. However different their concerns may be, there is a need to preserve their assets for the long term; it’s just that proper win/win incentives need to be found. The Library of Congress has five incentives for DAM’s to preserve their assets:
1. Self Interest Paradox – Being selfish can help others accidentally (DAM’s can help LAM’s by creating tools to preserve data and increase metadata accuracy)
2. Happy Data, Happy Users – Let your users control their data
3. Open Infrastructures – Open standards, tools, and formats lower costs and expand the possibilities for data
4. National Collaboration Engine – a DAM Software collaboration of NDSA; light-weight membership where groups can work together (www.digitalpreservation.gov/ndsa
5. Karmic Wheel – Example: civil war daguerreotypes which were donated and later digitalized became a hit, one of which was used in National Geographic magazine.
Lazorchak also said that obsolescence isn’t happening as much now because vendors are now aware of it.
The “I Want My DAM” session was the next. It was presented by David Ginsberg and Christy King, who highlighted the reasons why DAM professional need to show their work. You need to account for the money that you save; and not just big saving, little ones as well. Those little savings can really add up over time. For example, in the past you had to print out and mail a copy of a image whereas you can now simply scan and and email the image. The price of postage can add-up quick. The presenters suggested that you introduce your DAM in phases. If, for example, you don’t receive all the money that you wanted for the project you can scale the project back and roll out a DAM in phases to spread out the cost. You could contact your vendor to discuss options with scaling back the project or adding in a extra phase. The presenters did say that vendors tend to low-ball their prices, so to keep that in mind. However, money might not be the only limitation, time could be as well (another reason why phased-projects is the way to go). You also have to be careful not to isolate your data when you break your project into phases. They also stressed the importance of getting people on your side and keeping a paper trail or a diary from people with their thoughts on wanting a DAM system. When you have friends who want a DAM as much as you do, they would be the ones most willing to try your soft launch. This is similar to beta testing and it would be better to work out your bugs on these “friendlies”. They stressed the importance of communicating with people, being up-front in what you are able to produce is always better in the long run.
The first session after lunch was Using Taxonomies and Metadata with Gary Carlson. I found this to be very interesting and packed with information. So much so that I wasn’t able to write it all down. The basic overview is that taxonomies and metadata can be used to create a Technical Content Strategy. Carlson talked about how a strategy driven by technology, rather than information, is not as good because it has limitations. He also discussed how taxonomies can help with content management. I really liked how he talked about the difference between a “deep archive” and an “active archive.”
The last session I attended consisted of two case studies. The Turner one really cool. They were showing off this Samsung Touch Table running this Light Table app on. It was shiny. This was cutting edge and shows why conferences like this are so important. While I can know that the technology was there to create something like this, I had now idea it was already available. I really liked how he explained how he came up with his idea of a digital light box. While I haven’t used an actual one, I can imagine it would be pretty intuitive much like the experience this touch table gives you. It really is great how people can view and edit digital photos on this. Also I think Christopher Grakal (the presenter) was right on about how this technology can foster collaboration among different departments.
The second case study in this session was by Paul Lasewicz, from IBM’s corporate archive. I was waiting for this presentation all day and it didn’t disappoint. He talked about an organization for which a DAM might be helpful but not critical to the business; something that’s a pretty important topic for those in the archive field. He said that when you are designing a DAM, it is important to balance what you, the vendor, and IT know. How it’s important to “hitch your wagon” to a big budget. His discussed how his archive was able to achieve that because IBM had a well-defined brand that the archive was able to work with. He talked about some of the concepts of the IBM brand, such as a heritage of progress and working with forward-thinking clients. How these themes have shaped their corporate culture and influenced how they work today, like their smarter planning project. How their history can showcase their values, like diversity or their relationships with employees. Lasewicz said that heritage is based on the compelling real-life stories that helped define IBM such as Deep Blue, which he mused was archival even if it was only 15 years ago. I personally thought that this could be compared to oral histories or how the NYC archives was able to digitize their photograph college. The session ended with him explaining that while DAM works with item level storage, most archivists don’t process to that level. Rather, they work with board series and collections. However, DAM can represent the big picture or help establish some intellectual control. Something the marketers who have the big budgets might appreciate.
Createasphere opened with a brief speech from the founder who stressed the importance of content: knowing its value, how you can be its best custodian, and the increasing need for organizations to manage it. A great way to open a DAM conference to a bunch of DAM professionals.
Thursday’s Keynote on Collaborative Innovation, from Doug Collins, was about the importance of working together and learning from your community. He cited Fisher Price (My FP Ideas) for how that company is looking into its target audience, namely mothers, and what types of new toys they would buy for their kids. He lamented the “tragedy of the web”: not that no one maintains it, but that everyone has brought their own version of it. Collaborative Innovation is a sign of leadership and can be used to articulate the benefits of DAM. Collins also described The Flow: Paint a picture, Identify Sponsor, Identify Challenge, Form Challenge, Challenge flow, Resolve Challenge, Explore Governance. The Flow helps find out what is the challenge or an organization and how to resolve it.
The Making Workflow Work For You was next. It included Andrew Mannone, B.J. Gray, Carol Thomas-Knipes, and Nate Cooper as panelists and Aaron Holm as moderator. With a lineup like that, you know it was a crackerjack discussion. Each panelist explained briefly their organization’s workflow. I liked how they included the fact that “archiving” is not the same as “backup.” I think the most important point brought up by a panelist is the importance of the end-user: that DAM professionals have to ask them questions. At the end of the session, the panelists was asked what they thought about different systems “talking” to each other. Someone said that right now the technical capabilities were there, it’s just being implemented (something I didn’t know). I thought that that was a big limitation with today’s technology.
It’s that time of the year for that DAM conference Createasphere to come into town. This year’s experience for me started with the Pre-Createasphere DAM Meetup at The Archive Bar on Wednesday night. I’m not much of a bar person, but this place felt more like a lounge, or maybe a loud library. The back room had antique books in a glass case on the wall. There was a very elegant atmosphere to the bar. I arrived early and I’m glad I did, because a few people did come earlier than the start time and we had a nice conversation. The back of the bar was reserved for the group and it was a good thing too, because the place was packed with DAM Professionals by the time I had to leave. That said, I didn’t feel cramped there and we were a spread-out group. I know the purpose of these meetups is to meet new people, which I did; but I saw so many people I knew that I hadn’t seen since the last meetup or the last Createasphere. It was nice to talk to them and catch up. I’m already looking forward to the next Meetup the Taxonomy Throw down at METRO.