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In his Bits On Blocks blog, Antony Lewis has written an article titled: The emergence of blockchains as Activity Registers about the two different roles Blockchains play.  For those unfamiliar with the term, blockchains are the distributed ledger technologies used to record transactions in commodity digital assets (aka ‘cryptocurrencies’) like Bitcoin.  The item refers specifically to financial services, but I believe it is equally applicable to non-financial digital assets as well:

[Activity Registers] This second class of blockchain contains entries that contain data, usually fingerprints of data called hashes, possibly stored with some other non-sensitive metadata. The data can represent anything, but in the financial services context, they might be trade facts about transactions negotiated and agreed “off-chain” via another channel. This keeps the commercially sensitive secrets off the industry-shared ledger, while leaving an indelible mark on it that can be referred to later if needed.” [Read More]

The last line of the above quote, in particular, is of significance to DAM interoperability.  An issue with most of the generic interoperability protocols that are used by DAM solutions is either having to reveal more asset metadata than you might have wanted to, or the necessity to configure security policies to restrict access to data.  While there are wider standards for accessing data now like REST etc, there is no atomic unit identifier which relates to a package of data (i.e. the digital asset).  It is possible to use URLs to fulfil this role, but not all solutions support that method and the techniques used to decode them tend to be quite distinct from each other.

As yet, there are no DAM inteorperability protocols.  Even something as simple as knowing whether or not an asset exists and having a universal identifier for it which is fungible across different systems is impossible.  The current state of DAM interoperability is what it would be like if you had to contract two lawyers to organise exchanging money between different currencies (with all the cost, hassle and time-consuming delays that the description implies).  Dealing with just two different types is bad enough, when you start to need to involve may more, the situation begins to get very demanding and complex to manage.  Reading through Antony’s article, a number of the scenarios that can be resolved with what he refers to as Distributed Activity Registers sounds a lot like ones which anyone who has managed complex DAM integration projects will have encountered and wished there was a solution for (especially those where there are many different counterparties involved who are all mistrustful of each other by default).

Having references to digital assets from different repositories recorded on the blockchain would remove the first (and biggest) tier of complexity from this task since blockchain transactions provide a universal reference in a predictable format with standardised access methods which different systems can treat like a public key and cross reference back to their own internal identifier, as well as other metadata.  This is an issue I have discussed before on DAM News (and elsewhere).

The ‘industry’ Antony refers to in his piece is somewhat different from the one we tend to talk about in this journal, however, that is a historic perspective which I expect to change.  I believe that the Digital Asset Management market (as in ‘DAM’) needs to pay more attention to what is happening with distributed ledger technologies as they will have a significant commercial impact on what happens for some time to come in our market.


DAM Guru Events Calendar Syndicated On DAM News

August 16, 2016 Industry News

Readers may have noticed that we are now syndicating events from the DAM Guru Events Calendar on DAM News (in addition to Tim Strehle’s Planet DAM aggregated feed).  The latest events are included on the sidebar to the right and there is a dedicated resources page with a longer list.  The DAM Guru Programme (DGP) calendar was […]

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Clarifai vs Google Vision: Two Visual Recognition APIs Compared

August 12, 2016 Emerging DAM Technologies

As regular readers will be aware, I have been following various automated visual recognition tools for some time now and so far remain underwhelmed by the results (especially compared with the marketing hype that typically accompanies them).  A few months back, I checked out the Google Vision API with some test images and the results were partially successful, but […]

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Review Of Metadata For Content Management By David Diamond

August 5, 2016 Digital Asset Management Books

David Diamond has released another book titled: Metadata For Content Management as a follow-up from DAM Survival Guide.  The new publication does not specifically refer to Digital Asset Management because David says he wants the topics discussed to be relevant to all types of system that mange content (i.e. it has a wider frame of […]

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What Is DAM’s Role In Social Media?

July 29, 2016 Social Media and DAM

Denzil Ford, who is a writer and content strategist for DAM vendor, MediaValet has contributed a feature article which we have published today: Snapshots Of The Past, Present & Future Of Social Media + DAM.  The item considers the role of DAM within social media and asks some questions about whether the technology aspects of the discussion are gaining too […]

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What Are The Emerging Digital Asset Management Market Trends To Be Aware Of?

July 22, 2016 Emerging DAM Technologies

The Extensis DAM Learning Centre (which is included in our list of featured DAM resources) has recently published an article by Toby Martin called Emerging Trends In The DAM Marketplace.  The article came out about a week before Extensis’ latest Portfolio product release announcement, as such, this is appears (at least in part) to be a piece […]

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The Role Of Microservices In Digital Asset Management

July 11, 2016 Digital Asset Management Value Chains

Martin Wilson, of Asset Bank has contributed a feature article to DAM News: How Microservices And Cloud Services Are Changing DAM.  In the item, Martin describes what Microservices are, their recent upsurge in popularity and how they are likely to change the DAM software landscape quite significantly: “Before long, the idea of buying a single DAM application will probably […]

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AI And DAM: The Liability Question

July 5, 2016 Opinion

I have contributed an article to our features section: AI For DAM: Reliability, Liability And Risk Management in which I discuss the robustness of AI solutions and also consider the question of who has liability for them if/when they go wrong: “As we have discussed on DAM News recently, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is getting a lot of […]

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London DAM Meetup – 28th June 2016, 5pm, Radisson BLU Portman Hotel, London W1

June 22, 2016 Industry News

Next week, there is a London DAM meetup being held at the tail-end of the first day of the Henry Stewart DAM EU conference at 5pm.  From 6pm onwards, the venue changes to the Dover Castle in nearby Weymouth Mews: “In collaboration with Henry Stewart, please join us for drinks after the first conference day of DAM […]

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DAM Vendors 2016 Pricing Survey Released

June 14, 2016 Vendors

Late last year, we got in contact with a number of DAM software vendors to ask how many would be interested in participating in a pricing survey.  We sent out a request to all those firms registered on our directory and 36 companies indicated a potential interest with 16 of them agreeing to submit a response (all of whom are […]

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Asset Identifiers: The Most Important Piece Of The Metadata Interoperability Puzzle

June 3, 2016 DAM Interoperability

Over the last few months, I have been involved with an increasing number of DAM integration projects where interoperability with some other third party system has been a key issue.  At the same time, I have also had consulting assignments that were not related to Digital Asset Management, but more like metadata management and information architecture projects […]

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