David Tenenbaum

David Tenenbaum

Why is DAM important to you?

My parents were both in the Holocaust, both in camps, and both lost their entire families. I always thought if someone could have been there to tell the story, the outcome could have been different. After earning BS and MS degrees from MIT, I took the unusual career path of becoming a photojournalist for 15 years, doing a tiny part in the story telling of our times. I covered wars and elections and Pope Trips and Shuttle launches and tragedies and Super Bowls.

I then realized I could have perhaps more impact by making systems to help other visual storytellers to create, organize, and deliver their stories better and faster.

To me DAM is the hub for storytellers: whether the story is about world events, or your company’s innovative product or service, or your non-profits good acts. The better the DAM the more creative effort storytellers can bring to their craft, and the better they can further their cause. And everyone loves to hear, and see, a well told story!

Why is this an incredibly exciting time to be in the DAM world?

We are living in the opening stages of the AI world. Roughly every 20 years a truly disruptive technology emerges, and that is happening right now.

Why now? Three things have lined up: the availability of “Big Data”, GPU’s, and Deep Learning

Big Data: we have all been doing digital imaging for a while now, and hundreds of millions of images are at everyone’s fingertips thanks to the previous disruptive technology, the Internet. That trove of data did not exist 20 years ago, and with a “training set” that huge, an AI engine can “learn” the patterns of some amazing things.

GPU: or Graphics Processing units are the chips needed to run AI applications fast enough to be useful. They also happen to handle the same kind of math in every Xbox, Nintendo, Playstation or gaming PC! As a result the cost of very, very fast GPU chips has fallen and the compute needed to make AI useful is now affordable. A GPU for a gaming PC is the rough equivalent of a Supercomputer from years ago. So we have the rise of gaming to thank for the AI age!

Deep Learning: Previously, for “intelligent” systems you had to be a domain expert and painstakingly write lots of rules for something, and since no two experts ever agree on anything, coming up with an optimum solution was rarely possible. With the Deep Learning branch of AI, you do not write the rules for a system: you flow a lot of “Big Data” through your GPU, and it detects and tunes to the patterns it sees from your training data. Those patterns may be invisible to the human eye, but if trained on enough data a Deep Learning model will recognize amazing things.

So we have this technology, great. Now what? Well, it turns out there is no shortage of problems to solve in DAM, problems that Deep Learning and Big Data are very well suited to solve.

“This picture is close, but not right. Show me pictures that look like this one?”

“I have narrowed down the photo to use on our homepage to these 5. Which will have the most impact, will draw people in?”

“I have very little metadata in my system, can’t I find another way to search for what I need?”

And we are just getting started……

What’s the most important thing for someone new to DAM to understand about DAM?

DAM is your ticket out of chaos!

Before DAM some objects were on Harry’s hard drive, some on Sue’s, and we are not sure where the other stuff we need is. And Sue is out today, so we cannot get to that photo shoot we need for the brochure.

The first thing DAM brings is a single, centralized location for all your digital objects, what some call a “single source of truth”. Instead of having to remember who last had the photo or PDF or graphic you need, it is all in one place.

The second thing is a DAM gives you the ability to search all your objects to find just the right one, quickly and efficiently. To get the most out of conventional search you need to build a culture where everyone embraces the need to add metadata about the object, to make it discoverable later.

Finally there are input and output workflows. On input, there can be the ability to enforce adding certain metadata fields your organization feels are necessary (or the object will not be allowed to go into the DAM). Output workflows can move just the right objects instantly into your CMS system, or the Adobe Creative Suite, or other applications.

Your DAM is a key component in enabling great storytelling at your organization: if you cannot easily find and put to use great photos, videos, graphics or other objects, your cannot communicate to the world effectively!


David Tenenbaum is CEO and owner of MerlinOne.  You can read more about David’s business on the MerlinOne websitehttps://merlinone.com and connect with him on LinkedInhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/dave-tenenbaum-9a9a031/


This interview was published in DAM News on 7th July 2021. For more DAM News interviews, see the interviews index page.

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