Andrew Manone has written this post on his own Damaged Workflow blog with a topical twist (for those that follow the US elections, at least) where he adapts the “Vote early, vote often” message to “Tag early, tag often”:
“The tongue-in-cheek phrase about voting when applied to metadata would be, ‘Tag early, Tag often’, and it works. Tagging your assets with metadata as close to the creation point as possible is essential to increasing their value as they’re ingested to your DAM. Pre-tagged assets become almost instantly usable to your user base the moment they’re ingested.” [Read More]
This is definitely good advice and I also have anecdotal evidence that suggests the longer this task gets left, the less likely it is to happen as more pressing requirements move up the priority list. It’s certainly true that some metadata is usually better than none. As well as uncatalogued assets, however, I’ll shamelessly use another US political analogy here in that you need to prepare to tackle your ‘cataloguing cliff’ not long afterwards as well. This means that there is some process in place to follow up the basic metadata you added just to get the asset into the DAM to make sure it is quality checked, verified and (probably) improved. If you don’t, end users with uploading responsibility will start assuming that once it is ‘in the system’ people can automagically find it.
We’ve written before on DAM News about the asynchronous attitude many DAM users have. That’s a polite way of saying that people will often act in a hypocritical manner with DAM systems (depending on what user role they are currently engaged with it as). They will want to rush through the cataloguing tasks to tick off items on their to-do list as quickly as possible, but then also complain that they can’t find what they are looking for later because the assets they or their colleagues have catalogued doesn’t contain relevant or appropriate metadata.
As someone who has been involved DAM system development, I’ve lost count of the number of times either myself or colleagues have got asked to investigate a ‘bug’ which has later turned out to be not one with the software but poor quality cataloguing – i.e. no useful metadata to search for in the first place. Being even-handed towards users entering the metadata, it also helps if the software doesn’t put loads of unnecessary obstacles in the way too (which can and certainly does happen).
If you have been elected to be President of your DAM system, you need to anticipate these multiple potential issues in advance and work out some kind of QA strategy to ensure metadata gets reviewed. If there are problems, you need to know why exactly they are happening and what you need to do to prevent them. In the first instance, however, exactly as Andrew says, like voting, with metadata it’s more important you just do it.
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