Jonathan Studiman, writing on his personal products of the industrial age blog discusses some improvements he and his colleagues made to a DAM system he is implementing for The City of Toronto’s Clerk’s Office and City Planning departments. The main point of interest in the article is that the system was enhanced using metadata alone, i.e. not spending money on software customisation or feature upgrades. No doubt that isn’t what many DAM vendors will be keen to hear, however, if the system gets more widely used then it’s easier for the sponsors of it to justify further investment and conversely reduces the risk of it being abandoned.
Jonathan looks at four principles he has adapted from his background in information standards:
- Use it or lose it
- Mutual exclusivity
- Use the language of your users
- Use terms important to organizational context
This quote is from the ‘Use the language of your users’ section:
“Pick list terms should match the terms used by staff, the public, or whoever will actually be using the system. In controlled vocabulary development standards, this is known as the principle of user warrant. The closer the alignment, the more intuitive and easier it will be to pick the right term when describing and searching for assets.” [Read More]
The article is short but has a lot of useful information on rationalising your DAM system and helping users to get more useful data out of it. I found this of interest as I have been working on a related piece (for publication in DAM News) that discusses some basic metadata principles which don’t cost any money to implement and can significantly improve the quality of search results you can get from any DAM system.
Although I am from a software background, it does seem like real progress in Digital Asset Management is not going to exclusively come from adding functional improvements to products, but when end users (especially those doing the cataloguing) acquire the skills required to extract more value from their systems using techniques like the ones Jonathan describes.
There is undoubtedly a pile of work to be done to improve what you can do on a typical DAM system to make metadata entry easier and less of a chore than it is now; but the ‘garbage in – garbage out’ issue which has plagued management information systems (including DAM) for 50 years plus now still isn’t going away and nor is it likely to. Perhaps this is a subject for another article, but it does seem that despite the ‘information revolution’, many IT systems are still closer to the spinning jenny that ushered in the industrial era rather than any kind of tangible artificial intelligence that is able to successfully take on jobs like metadata cataloguing for us.
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