An accomplished PhD educated Digital Asset Manager working in the museum space, Shean has over a decade of experience with multiple enterprise DAM systems.
What companies/organizations have you worked for as a DAM professional? What was your role at each?
I have been in museum IT for more than a decade and have been involved in the implementation and maintenance of three different digital asset management software products. At the Frick Collection, we started with a workgroup version of Canto Cumulus and subsequently migrated to a larger Xinet installation.
We had originally implemented digital asset management software to help catalog and deliver thousands of images produced for a succession of grant-funded art image projects (AMICO, ARTstor, NEH), but soon realized the benefits of DAM systems for these and other media assets as part of a larger preservation and archival strategy.
Currently, I am employed as a technical architect in the collections information services group at the Metropolitan Museum of Art where I support a very well-integrated implementation of HP MediaBin. Before working with DAM systems, I already had a solid background in database development and administration and art image metadata standards. My technology areas of interest include database administration, web application development, and systems integration in general.
How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?
I learned out of necessity during a succession of intense digital image creation and delivery projects. For someone just starting out (or anyone working with DAM systems already) I highly recommend David Diamond’s DAM Survival Guide.
What’s the most important thing for someone new to DAM to understand about DAM?
I think it’s most helpful to see these systems as part of a larger technology ecosystem. DAM systems will not replace existing web content management platforms, asset creation tools, or object or product information catalog databases. Their importance would seem to depend upon how intensely assets need to be reused by people across an organization.
Actually, in that way, I can see many analogies between DAM systems administration and database administration more generally. In each case, your daily concerns depend on the kind of data being stored, the quantity of data being stored, and the access requirements of the business. I am sure that a DAM system software implementation at a broadcasting organization would look a lot different than the same software in use at an art museum.
What is your vision for DAM? What will it look like in 5 years?
I would like to see vendors (or at least their integrators) work harder to speak to constituents in the museum and library space. We often feel like the outsiders, even though it’s obvious that we have plenty of interesting visual material and, increasingly, more and more audio and video assets related to our cultural artifacts.
For example, many museums collect born-digital art. As consumers of software, we are notoriously reluctant to leave our enterprise systems and we have well-defined descriptive metadata taxonomies. It would seem a great opportunity for a service provider to establish some standards that could be shared across the industry. We have some very specialized requirements—most significantly, the mandate to preserve and facilitate access to our shared cultural history.